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Sharks, Flames looking to add distance to leads

Monday, 03.30.2009 / 2:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

The battle Monday is focused on the top of the standings, as the San Jose Sharks try to extend their Presidents' Trophy lead when they face the Calgary Flames (9:30 p.m., GCL), who will try to widen their one-point gap on the Canucks for the Northwest Division's top spot.

The Sharks enter tonight's action with a two-point lead on the idle Red Wings for the best record in the League. A win tonight would give the Sharks their second 50-win season in franchise history.

The Flames saw their division lead trimmed to just one point following the Canucks' 4-0 defeat of the Blackhawks on Sunday.

The Devils are near the top of the Eastern Conference, but they visit the Rangers (7 p.m. ET, TSN, VERSUS) losers of their last four games. The Rangers have lost two in a row, and have just a two-point lead on ninth-place Florida.

Also tonight, the Dallas Stars, who have lost six straight to fall eight points out of a playoff spot, visit the Coyotes (10 p.m. ET, VERSUS).
 
Here are some quick-hitting facts about the teams playing tonight:

* New Jersey left wing Patrik Elias already has 78 points in 74 games, a season after scoring just 55 points in 74 games. He's second on the team in scoring, but leads the club with 31 power-play points.

* Devils left wing Zach Parise is trying to become the first player in franchise history to score 50 goals in a season, but he has just 2 goals in his last eight games after scoring 6 goals in his previous nine games. Parise has 10 goals and 25 points in 29 career games against the Rangers, including two of the three goals his team scored in a 3-0 Devils victory Feb. 9, the last time the teams met.

* The Rangers are 8-5-2 since John Tortorella replaced Tom Renney as coach. They have scored four or more goals in eight games during that span, but are 29th in the League at 2.45 goals per game.

* Rangers center Nik Antropov has 6 goals and 10 points in 12 games since being acquired from the Maple Leafs on March 4, including goals in his last two games. Antropov has been most productive later in games; 17 of his 27 goals have come in the second period, while 12 of his 29 assists have come in the third.

* San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov is first among Pacific Division goalies and second in the League with 38 wins, and is the only goalie in the League to play at least 50 games and have less than 10 losses.
 
* Flames left wing Curtis Glencross averaged 11:21 of ice time playing with the Oilers and Blue Jackets last season, but is averaging 14:40 this season in Calgary, where he has 40 points -- 15 more than last season. Glencross has 3 assists and 4 points in five career games against the Sharks, including 2 assists and 3 points in three games this season.

* Dallas center Mike Ribeiro hit the 50-assist mark for the second consecutive season Saturday in the Stars' 6-3 loss to the Panthers, but has been held pointless in three of his last five games. Ribeiro has a good track record against the Coyotes, with 16 assists and 23 points in 23 career games, including 4 assists in five games this season.

* Stars center Mike Modano has been in double digits in the minus category just twice in his career prior to last season, but he was a minus-11 last season and is a minus-10 in 73 games this season. Modano also has not been as productive scoring goals as has been in previous seasons, as he has only 15 goals after three previous seasons of scoring at least 20. If he doesn't reach 20 this season, it would only be the second time in a non-shortened season he failed to hit that number.

* Ed Jovanovski leads Phoenix defensemen with 31 points and is one of just three Coyotes to play in all 75 games. Despite Jovanovski's offensive success, he has a minus-17 rating, second-worst on the team.

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

Fifty-five? That's shorts weather.

— New Anaheim Ducks forward, and Michigan native, Ryan Kesler on locals in Southern California considering 55 degrees to be cold
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