Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals are both on a roll -- and they hope to stay that way when the New York Islanders come to the Verizon Center on Friday night in one of eight games on the NHL schedule (7 p.m. ET).
Ovechkin has scored twice in each of Washington's last two games, including Thursday's 4-3 victory at Atlanta, and leads the NHL with 13 goals. The Caps are even hotter -- the win over the Thrashers was their sixth in a row, and at 8-2-2, they're already taking control of the Southeast Division race.
One of those wins came last Saturday, when Washington rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders are coming off their first regulation win of the season, a 3-1 home victory over the Rangers on Wednesday.
Also at 7, the Pittsburgh Penguins hit the road for a visit to Columbus. The Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin, who will miss a couple of weeks with a shoulder injury. The Blue Jackets have lost their way defensively, allowing 26 goals in their last five games -- including a 4-1 home loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.
Toronto continues its five-game trip with a visit to Buffalo (7:30 ET). The Leafs, who started the season 0-7-1, come off a win at Anaheim and an overtime loss at Dallas. They figure to have a tough time with the Sabres, who are 7-1-1 after Wednesday's 4-1 win at New Jersey.
Marian Gaborik's lower-body injury may keep him from playing when the New York Rangers visit Minnesota (8 p.m. ET). It's a game that Gaborik unquestionably wants to play in -- it's his return to the city where he spent his entire NHL career before signing with New York during the summer. Both teams are struggling; the Rangers are 1-3-1 in their last five, while Minnesota has lost nine of its first 12 games.
At 8:30, Montreal pays a rare visit to Chicago. Both teams are coming off losses -- The Canadiens were blitzed 6-1 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, while Chicago lost 2-0 at Nashville on Thursday. Also at 8:30, the struggling Florida Panthers visit Dallas.
There are two games on the West Coast.
The Roberto Luongo-less Vancouver Canucks go for a Southern California sweep when they visit the Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET). The Canucks got a terrific effort from backup Andrew Raycroft in a 2-1 shootout win at Los Angeles on Thursday. It was Raycroft's first start of the season and came after Luongo was diagnosed with a broken rib.
Colorado, the NHL's most surprising team, tries for its 11th victory of October when it visits San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET). The Avalanche, last in the West in 2008-09, are first in the conference after 13 games with a 10-1-2 record. San Jose is 8-4-1 and has won three in a row, including a 2-1 shootout win over Los Angeles on Wednesday.