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Important night on the Pond for Ducks, Oilers

Friday, 03.27.2009 / 3:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Anaheim Ducks have ridden their five-game win streak into seventh place in the Western Conference, but their 80 points match the eighth-place Edmonton Oilers. Friday night, those teams will meet in Anaheim (10 p.m. ET, GCL), and with time running out on the regular season, there are two vital points up for grabs.

Fourth place in the West also is on the line tonight. The Chicago Blackhawks, who have a two-point lead on the Vancouver Canucks, host the New Jersey Devils (8:30 p.m. ET, GCL), while the Canucks are in Colorado (9 p.m. ET, GCL).

Other games tonight feature the Washington Capitals, who have the same number of points as the Devils in their quest for second place in the Eastern Conference, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning; the Buffalo Sabres continue their fight to stay in the playoff race when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs; and the New York Islanders visit the Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET, RIS).

Here's what to watch:

* Washington center David Steckel, who is second in the Eastern Conference and seventh in the League with a 56.6 faceoff-winning percentage, averages the most shorthanded ice time among Capitals forwards at 3:47 per game. Steckel, who has just 30 points in 148 career games, has 5 goals and 10 points in 11 career games against the Lightning, including 3 assists and 4 points in four games this season.

* Maple Leafs center Matt Stajan, who leads the team with 35 assists, is third in the Northeast Division with 29 even-strength assists. Nine of his 14 goals have come on the road.

* Tampa Bay left wing Ryan Malone has scored at least 20 goals in four of his five NHL seasons, but has just 4 goals in his last 15 games.

* Sabres center Dominic Moore, who had 29 assists and 41 points in 63 games with the Maple Leafs, has just 2 assists and 3 points in nine games since Toronto traded him to Buffalo. Moore, who never had more than 20 points in a season prior to this one, hasn't faced the Maple Leafs since being traded from Toronto but has no points in seven career games against them.

* Detroit's Brian Rafalski leads Western Conference defensemen and is third among the League's defensemen with 57 points. He has 4 points in his last three games, but in the 10 games prior to that had just 2 points.

* The Devils, who have just four wins in 10 games without defenseman Colin White, said White's possible return from a lower-body injury Friday is a game-day decision.

* Chicago center Jonathan Toews has a minus-6 rating in his last 12 games. Toews is one of six Blackhawks to play in all 72 of Chicago's games this season. He had 13 goals at the All-Star break, but has 17 goals in just 27 games since then.

* Canucks right wing Pavol Demitra, who generally plays on a line with Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler, has 31 assists and 45 points in 42 career games against the Avalanche, including 2 assists in two games this season. Demitra leads all Slovakian-born players this season with 30 assists.

* Colorado left wing Wojtek Wolski, who leads the League with 9 shootout goals, hasn't scored a goal during game action in 14 games. Wolski, who had a plus-10 rating in 77 games last season, has a minus-12 rating in 73 games this season.

* The Oilers were 15-4 in shootouts last season. This season, they're just 6-4 in shootouts.    

* Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has earned the Ducks at least a point in six of his last eight games, hasn't allowed more than three goals in any game during that span.

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

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh