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Battle of Ontario highlights prime-time action

Saturday, 02.28.2009 / 12:00 AM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Battle of Ontario plays out its latest chapter as part of a Hockey Night in Canada when the Maple Leafs hit Ottawa (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US). The second game sees the Wild travel to Edmonton for a Northwest Division battle for valuable points in the Western Conference playoff race (10 p.m. ET CBC, NHLN-US).

In addition to those two games, the best team in the West is in arguably the most historic hockey city when the Sharks face the Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, CBC); the Sabres take on the Islanders; the Avalanche play at the Rangers; the Hurricanes go for their fifth win in six games when they skate against the Thrashers; the Red Wings play their second game in two nights when they face the Predators; and the Coyotes play their lone home game in a nine-game stretch when they play the Blues.

Here's what to watch:

* San Jose center Patrick Marleau, who leads the team with 34 goals, tied his career-high for goals Thursday when he scored the game-winning goal in the Sharks' 2-1 victory at the Senators. Marleau averaged 18:13 of ice time per game last season, but is averaging 21:32 of ice time this season.

* Maple Leafs left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who is two assists shy of tying his career-high of 24, has points in just three of his last 11 games. Ponikarovsky has just 5 goals and a minus-11 in 33 career games against Ottawa, but has 2 goals in three games against the Senators this season.

* Buffalo center Tim Connolly, who missed 24 games with a broken rib earlier this season, is second on the team at 0.93 points per game. Connolly, who hasn't played more than 60 games since the 2005-06 season, played at least 80 games in each of his first four seasons in the League.

* Avalanche center Paul Stastny has played more than 19 minutes in both games since returning from a broken arm that saw him miss 26 games. Stastny, who played on a line with Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk in Thursday's 4-0 loss to the Devils, still is fourth on the team with 32 points despite the time lost from his injury.

* Carolina left wing Sergei Samsonov has 23 assists this season, the most he's posted since the 2000-01 season, when he was with the Bruins. Samsonov, who has 8 assists and 11 points in 14 games since the All-Star break, has 16 assists and 24 points in 29 career games against the Thrashers, including 2 goals and 2 assists in five games against them this season.

* Predators defenseman Greg Zanon, who has blocked 92 more shots than any teammate, leads the team with an average of 4:11 of shorthanded ice time. Zanon, drafted No. 156 by the Senators in the 2000 Entry Draft, has a plus-7 rating in 18 career games against the Red Wings.

* St. Louis left wing David Perron, who leads the team with 29 assists, broke his eight-game slump without an assist Thursday in the Blues' 3-1 victory against the Stars. Perron, who is averaging just 15:06 of ice time, has played less than 13 minutes in nine of his last 10 games.

* Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert, who leads the team with 19 even-strength assists, has just 1 assist in 14 career games against the Wild.

* Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba, who had 11 assists in 10 games in October, hasn't had more than 6 assists in any month since then and has just 3 assists in 13 games in February. He has just 3 points in his last 16 games.

* The Rangers, who were in first place in the Atlantic Division until Jan. 2, have lost their last four games and are just one point ahead of the ninth-place Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers, who are last in the League with 144 goals, have scored more than two goals just once in their last eight games.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.





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It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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