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Battle of Pennsylvania takes center stage

by Adam Schwartz
The lone 7 p.m. start features the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center.
Five games are scheduled for Tuesday night in the NHL.

The lone 7 p.m. start features the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center.

Thirty minutes later the Tampa Bay Lightning will play the Montreal Canadiens, and the Calgary Flames start a three-game Southeast swing at the Florida Panthers.

Later, the resurgent St. Louis Blues will play host to the Edmonton Oilers.

Capping the night, the defensive-oriented Minnesota Wild face off against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion.

Here are some things to keep an eye on:

* The Penguins are coming back to Pennsylvania; but they still are on the road. Pittsburgh is completing its four-game road trip - which included stops in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver – in the City of Brotherly Love. Pittsburgh has won its last four games, which has elevated the Penguins into the Atlantic Division title race.

* After winning their first six home games, the Flyers have lost their last five, which has kept Philadelphia from first place in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers are three points behind the first-place New Jersey Devils, but Philadelphia has three games in hand on New Jersey and the second-place New York Rangers

* The Canadiens are 1-2 since goaltender Cristobal Huet went down with a groin injury Dec. 3. Highly-touted rookie Carey Price was replaced on Saturday night by Jaroslav Halak after allowing four goals on 30 shots against the Carolina Hurricanes

* Montreal is 5-6-3 at home, but its road record of 9-5-1 has kept the club’s playoff hopes afloat. 

* Tampa Bay center Vincent Lecavalier has a League-leading 45 points in 30 games. He had a four-game point-scoring streak stopped Monday night in the Lightning’s 6-1 loss to Toronto. 

* The Flames look to get to .500 on the road, where they are 5-6-1. Calgary got off to a good start on its six-game road trip with a 3-2 victory Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

* The Flames are 2-0-2 in December and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has allowed five goals on 94 shots during the last three games.

* The Panthers trail the second-place Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers by two points in the Southeast Division.

* The Oilers will attempt to stop a three-game losing streak. Edmonton did come away with a point in its 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday night. 

* The Blues have gone 43-28-10 since Andy Murray took the coaching duties last season.

* St. Louis has only allowed more than three goals just twice this season and sits in second place in the Central Division. The Blues have 33 points, one point ahead of the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets and three ahead of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.   
* Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador leads the club with a plus-13 rating.

* Brad Boyes has flourished in his first full season in St. Louis. Boyes leads the Blues with 17 goals and is second on the club with 24 points.

* Minnesota is in the midst of a five-game road trip. During the trip, the Wild were shut out by the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, 5-0, Friday and defeated the Blue Jackets, 2-1, at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

* Wild forward Aaron Voros, who has played in 14 games, has five goals on 25 shots.  

* San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov had his four-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Nabokov was replaced with rookie Dimitri Patzold after giving up four goals on 25 shots. The appearance was Patzold’s third of the season.

* The Sharks have a 4-6-2 record at HP Pavilion, but have an 11-3-2 record on the road. San Jose trails the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars by two points but has played three fewer games. The Sharks are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the division, but San Jose has played four fewer games. 

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