'Twas the night before the night before Christmas
and all through the land
there were hockey games a plenty …
and isn't that grand!
With the NHL preparing to take Christmas Eve and Christmas off, the Dec. 23 schedule is packed with 13 games. While the big contest of the night is the Winter Classic warmup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, 24 other teams will spend the last night before the break on the ice.
The Penguins and Caps play one of seven games that face off at 7 p.m. ET.
In Boston, the Bruins and Atlanta Thrashers will try to bounce back from home losses. Boston fell 3-0 to Anaheim on Monday, while Atlanta lost 4-2 at home to St. Louis on Tuesday. Florida, a 5-2 loser at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, moves on to Buffalo, where the Sabres are coming off a 5-2 victory against the Ducks on Tuesday.
Tampa Bay, a 2-1 overtime loser to the Islanders on Wednesday, move from the suburbs to the city for a game against the Rangers. New York has been off since Saturday's 4-1 loss at Philadelphia. The Islanders move to New Jersey for a meeting with the Devils, who lost 5-1 at Washington on Tuesday.
Also at 7, Montreal continues its marathon road trip with a stop at Carolina, where the Hurricanes are back home after a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday. That game can be seen in Canada on RDS and TSN. Vancouver finishes a week in the Midwest with a stop at Columbus. The Canucks lost 5-4 in OT at Detroit on Wednesday, while the Jackets are trying for back-to-back wins after beating Calgary 3-1 on Tuesday.
Two more games begin at 8 p.m. ET -- Detroit visits St. Louis and Ottawa travels to Nashville. At 8:30, the Pacific Division-leading Stars, coming off a 5-2 home win against Montreal on Tuesday, host Calgary.
Colorado will try to bounce back from a 5-0 home loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday when the Avs host Northwest Division rival Minnesota. The Wild come to Denver after a 4-1 home victory against Calgary on Monday.
The final two games before the holiday both start at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Kings are back home after their win at Colorado to host Edmonton, a 2-1 loser at San Jose on Tuesday. The Sharks stay at the HP Pavilion to host Phoenix, which is playing its fifth road game in nine days and is back on the West Coast after being routed 6-1 at Pittsburgh on Monday.