Entering the 2009-10 season, the Colorado Avalanche
and Phoenix Coyotes
were two teams not expected to be near the top of the Western Conference standings.
Six months later, they'll highlight a nine-game schedule in the NHL on Thursday night.
The Avs and Coyotes will battle it out at Jobing.com Arena at 9 p.m. ET. A victory could potentially move Phoenix (37-22-5) into fourth place in the Western Conference, while a victory would push Avs past Phoenix into fifth place in the Western Conference.
Both teams will be seeing familiar faces in strange places after making a trade on Wednesday. Wojtek Wolski
, acquired from Colorado, will make his debut for the Coyotes, while Peter Mueller
will be in the lineup for the Avs. He played Wednesday in the Avs' 4-3 win at Anaheim.
Thursday's action gets under way with five games that face off at 7 p.m. ET. The Pittsburgh Penguins
and New York Rangers
will meet at Madison Square Garden in an Atlantic Division showdown that will be televised nationally in the U.S. on Versus.
Also at 7, the Boston Bruins
host the Toronto Maple Leafs
, while Tampa Bay visits Washington (NHL Network-U.S.). The Atlanta Thrashers
host the New York Islanders
and the Ottawa Senators
visit Carolina (RDS in Canada).
Two games begin during the 8 o'clock hour -- the Los Angeles Kings
, who acquired Jeff Halpern
and Fredrik Modin
in separate deals on Wednesday and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 games, visit the Nashville Predators
at 8 p.m. ET. Thirty minutes later, the Dallas Stars
will host the St. Louis Blues
In the final game of the night, the Montreal Canadiens
make a rare trip to San Jose to face the Pacific-Division leading Sharks. The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and RDS. The Habs, coming off a 4-1 win at Boston on Tuesday, are visiting the Shark Tank for the first time since March 3, 2008, and just the second time since the 2004-05 work stoppage. They haven't won in San Jose since Nov. 23, 1999, dropping their last four visits.