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Stanley Cup Final

Crosby's return highlights light night

Wednesday, 01.28.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

Sidney Crosby's return and a doubleheader on the NHL Network and TSN highlight a four-game slate of games tonight.

Crosby injured his knee Jan. 14, and while he played two of the next three games, he was less than 100 percent. He sat out the All-Star Game and spent five straight days off the ice, but went through the morning skate Wednesday, his third straight day of practice, and deemed himself healthy for Wednesday's game against the Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, RIS).

"I feel good," Crosby told the team's Web site. "I haven't gone backwards in the last three days so that's a good sign."

Tonight's national doubleheader features the Northwest Division-leading Flames facing the Sabres at 8 p.m. ET, followed by the Predators in Vancouver at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Also the Blackhawks begin an eight-game road trip in Anaheim.

Here's what to keep an eye out for:

* Rangers center Scott Gomez, who has had seven seasons with at least 40 assists, is second on the team with 24 assists, putting him on pace for 42. Gomez, who has 4 assists and 6 points in his last five games, has 36 assists and 46 points in 54 career games against the Penguins.

* The Penguins are 10th in the Eastern Conference, but just two points out of the last playoff spot. Pittsburgh, which had the fourth-best power play in the League last season at 20.4 percent, enters with the No. 22 power play in the League this season at just 16.7 percent.

* Buffalo right wing Drew Stafford, who scored 16 goals in 64 games last season, has 12 goals in 45 games this season, putting him on pace for a career-high 21. Stafford had his second career hat trick Tuesday in the Sabres' 10-2 win against the Oilers.

* Sabres defenseman Chris Butler, who averages 15:44 of ice time, has played more than 20 minutes in each of his last three games -- the only games of the 15 he's played in which he has played more the 20 minutes. Butler has a minus-2 rating on the road, but a plus-6 rating at home.

* Flames right wing David Moss, who is one of five Calgary players with at least 15 goals, has scored 11 goals at home. Moss, who scored 6 goals in 13 December games, has 4 goals in January, and the Flames still have two more games before the end of the month.

* Calgary, which has scored nine more goals than any other team in the Northwest Division, has the second-best power play in the division but is just 13th in the League at 19.2 percent. The Flames, who are 5-1-0 when the shots are even, are 15-0-2 when entering the third period with the lead.

* Blackhawks right wing Martin Havlat is averaging just 17:13 of ice time per game. Havlat, who hasn't played more than 60 games in a season since the 2003-04 season, has skated in all 45 games this season.

 
* Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf, who was voted to start for the Western Conference at the 2009 All-Star Game, leads his team in scoring by 14 points. Getzlaf, who leads the Western Conference and is fourth in the League with 58 points, has played 20 minutes in four of his last six games, during which he has 6 assists and 8 points.

* The Predators, who are 14th in the Western Conference with 43 points, have no players in the top 65 scorers in the League. Nashville, which has the best penalty kill in the Central Division at 84.0 percent, has been shorthanded more times (212) than any other team in the division.

* Nashville right wing Martin Erat, who is third on the team with 11 goals, has scored just 2 goals in his last 11 games. Erat, who averages 18:40 of ice time per game, has played at least 20 minutes in four of his last six games.

* Canucks center Mats Sundin, who had 40 assists in each of his last four seasons, has just 1 assist in seven games since signing with Vancouver. Sundin, who had a plus-17 rating last season with the Maple Leafs, who missed the playoffs, has a minus-3 rating with Vancouver, which is in the thick of the playoff hunt this season.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.

It's hard to walk into that locker room and look those guys in the eye when they've played -- clearly, that was our best game we've played in the series -- and I thought we deserved a better fate tonight.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on his team's 3-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 on Sunday