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Lightning, Senators square off on light night

Wednesday, 03.11.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Lightning look to put an end to their three-game losing streak against the Senators (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US), who have won their last three games, in one of just three games in the NHL Wednesday night.

In addition to the Ottawa-Tampa Bay game, the Hurricanes look to jump from the eighth spot all the way to a tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference when they face off against the Blackhawks, who are in fourth place in the Western Conference with 81 points.

Vancouver, which is in fifth place in the West and is five points behind Chicago, battles the 12th-place Ducks, who are just three points out of a playoff spot.

Here's what to keep an eye out for:

* Tampa Bay center Vaclav Prospal, who has had 50 points in each of his last six seasons, has 21 assists and 24 points in 30 career games against the Senators, including 2 assists in two games this season. Prospal, whose father with the same name played professional hockey in the Czech Republic, is averaging 17:51 of ice time this season after averaging 19:22 last season.

* Ottawa defenseman Filip Kuba, who signed a three-season contract extension earlier this month, is tied for third among Northeast Division defensemen with 16 power-play assists. Kuba, who had 24 assists and 25 points in 36 games prior to the All-Star break, has just 4 assists and 5 points in 20 games since then.

* Hurricanes center Eric Staal has 5 goals and 12 points in his last six games, including a 6-point game last Saturday in Carolina's 9-3 win against Tampa Bay. Staal, who plays on a line with Tuomo Ruutu and the newly acquired Erik Cole, has only played in the playoffs one season, but was an integral part of helping the Hurricanes with the 2006 Stanley Cup.

* Carolina left wing Ray Whitney, who has 10 more assists than any other Hurricane, is just three assists shy of recording his fifth 40-assist season in his career. Whitney, who scored the third hat trick of his career last Friday in Carolina's 6-1 win against the Flames, has 21 of his 58 points in the third period. 

* Chicago right wing Kris Versteeg, who leads NHL rookies with 28 assists and 45 points, has just a goal and an assist in his last seven games. Versteeg, who had at least 8 points in October, November, December and January had just 6 points in February and has just 1 assist in four games in March.

* Blackhawks right wing Martin Havlat, who is tied for second on the team with 57 points, has not missed a game this season after playing just 109 combined games in the last three seasons. Havlat, who has 7 goals and 15 points in 16 career games against the Hurricanes, has 16 of his 36 assists in the first period.

* Vancouver center Ryan Kesler, who has been playing on a line with Mats Sundin and Pavol Demitra, has 4 assists and 5 points in his last five games, including the game-winning goal March 1 in the Canucks' 3-1 win against the Blue Jackets. Kesler, who owns three dogs, has the fifth-best faceoff-winning percentage among American-born NHL players at 53.9 percent.

 
* The Canucks, who had their four-game winning streak snapped Monday in a 3-2 loss to the Kings, have a 20-4-4 record when leading after the first period, but have an 8-15-1 record when trailing after the first period. Vancouver, which is one of just five teams in the League without a home shootout win, has the most combined overtime and shootout losses in the Northwest Division with eight.

* Anaheim center Ryan Getzlaf, who is second in the Pacific Division with 71 points, has just 2 points and a minus-6 rating in his last six games. Getzlaf, who is just 7 assists and 11 points shy of his career-highs, has 14 assists and 19 points in 13 Wednesday games.

* The Ducks, who are in 12th place in the Western Conference with 67 points, are just 11th in the League with 1,491 hits, but lead the League with 1,163 penalty minutes. Anaheim, which has a 17-12-6 record in one-goal games, has a 3-21-1 record when trailing going into the third period.

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

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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