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Capital clash in Ottawa

Tuesday, 01.20.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

America and Canada's capital cities clash Tuesday when the Senators host the Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) in one of eight games today.

Three other early games feature the Ducks continuing their five-game road trip at Madison Square Garden; the Thrashers hosting the Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, RDS); and Hurricanes looking to avoid their sixth loss in seven games when they play the Penguins.

Later, the Kings battle the Wild; the Oilers host the Blue Jackets; the Red Wings try for their third win in four games when they skate against the Coyotes; and the Canucks are in San Jose (10:30 p.m., ET, TSN), back on the road after losing all five games of their just-ended homestand.

Here's what to watch:

* Anaheim right wing Bobby Ryan, who is leading the team with an average of 0.45 goals per game, leads Anaheim forwards with a plus-12 rating. Ryan, who had 4 goals and 10 points in his first 14 games this season, has 9 goals and 18 points in his last 15 games.

* Rangers center Chris Drury, who leads the team with 15 goals, is a minus-5 in 47 games this season. Drury, who was named team captain prior to the start of the season, has 10 goals and 19 points in 23 career games against the Ducks.

* Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak, who had played 22 NHL games entering this season, has a 6-2 record since Carey Price suffered a lower-body injury, and he's allowed fewer than 4 goals in five games during that span. Halak, who has played 20 games this season, is 3-4-1 with an .899 save percentage on the road.

* Senators left wing Antoine Vermette, who had at least 19 goals in each of his last three seasons, has just 5 goals in 43 games this season, putting him on pace for 9. Vermette, who has 2 of his 5 goals in his last five games, is one of six Senators with a minus-10 or worse rating.   

* The Capitals, who have a 13-point lead over the second-place Panthers in the Southeast Division, are 13-4-3 in one-goal games. Washington, which has the most giveaways in the League with 590, has the second-most takeaways in the League with 433.

* Pittsburgh left wing Matt Cooke, who recently has been playing alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has 3 of his 7 goals this season in his last four games. Cooke, who averages 13:33 of ice time per game, played a season-high 20:17 last Friday in Pittsburgh's 3-1 victory against the Ducks.

* The Wild are 10-11-0 on the road, but 13-8-3 at home, which has helped them hold eighth place in the Western Conference with 49 points. Minnesota, which has a 17-6-0 record when scoring first, has scored their most goals in the third period, with 42.

* Edmonton defenseman Sheldon Souray, who leads Northwest Division defensemen with 12 goals and 31 points, has no goals in his last eight games. Souray, who is the Oilers' lone representative for the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal, has a goal and 2 assists in two games against the Blue Jackets this season.

 
* Red Wings left wing Jiri Hudler, who had 29 assists and 42 points in 81 games last season, has 21 assists and 38 points in 45 games, putting him on pace for 69 points. Hudler, who averages just 13:18 of ice time, has 4 assists and 6 points in his last five games.

* Phoenix right wing Peter Mueller, who represented the United States at the 2007 World Junior Championship and the 2008 World Championship, has a goal in each of his last three games. Mueller, who was scored in goals among rookies last season with 22, has 7 goals in 12 games since snapping a 21-game goalless drought.

* Canucks right wing Pavol Demitra, who has been playing on a line with Mats Sundin and Taylor Pyatt, played a season-low 10:44 Sunday in Vancouver's 6-5 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets. Demitra, who has had 30 assists in nine of his last 10 seasons, has just 12 assists in 37 games this season, putting him on pace for just 23.

* San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle, who leads NHL defensemen with 38 points, has 6 assists and 8 points in his last seven games. Boyle, who will represent the Sharks at the All-Star Game along with Joe Thornton, is one of six Sharks with at least a plus-11 rating.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals