The Detroit Red Wings will be looking to extend their franchise-record home-winning streak against the surging Anaheim Ducks in the first of three important games with Stanley Cup Playoffs implications on NHL Network this weekend.
Detroit will play host to Anaheim on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET), while Winnipeg travels to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m. ET) and recent roles will be reversed when rivals Montreal and Toronto meet on Saturday night (7 p.m. ET) at Air Canada Centre.
Anaheim is 11-2-2 in its last 15 games and has cut what was once a 20-point gap between the Ducks and the eighth spot in the Western Conference in half. The Ducks' margin of error is still razor thin, and this is the first of an eight-game road trip that will likely decide if they can try to finish this frenetic run or if general manager Bob Murray will have to think about the future.
Detroit is atop the NHL standings, and 18 consecutive victories at Joe Louis Arena has played a huge part in getting the Red Wings to this point. Tomas Holmstrom will play in his 1,000th NHL game for the Red Wings in this contest, and he'll probably spend a lot of time where he has in the previous 999 -- in front of the opposing goaltender.
The Jets come to Consol Energy Center fresh off a dramatic come-from-behind victory Thursday night in Washington. Winnipeg is now just four points behind Florida for first place in the Southeast Division after rallying with two goals in 12 seconds in the final minutes of the third period before claiming a 3-2 shootout victory against the stunned Capitals.
Pittsburgh will welcome center Jordan Staal back into the lineup against the Jets. Staal has missed the past five weeks with a knee injury. The Penguins, who have been deluged by injury this season, will not have the services of Tyler Kennedy, who is out four-to-six weeks with a high ankle sprain.
In recent seasons when the Canadiens came to Toronto to renew one of the League's best rivalries, the Maple Leafs were there to try and play the role of spoiler. Things have changed this season.
Toronto is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and trying to secure a playoff berth for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign. Meanwhile, this season has not been what fans in Montreal have come to expect. The Canadiens are in 11th place in the East, but sit nine points behind Toronto, and need a regulation win at ACC to keep any fleeting postseason hope alive.