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Busy night on the ice with 13 games

by Adam Schwartz
Twenty-six of the NHL's 30 teams are in action Saturday, including the Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game marks the first time Lightning coach Barry Melrose has been behind a bench in North America since he coached the Kings in 1995.

The other 7:30 p.m. start pits the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New Jersey Devils, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Atlantic Division last season.

Six 7 p.m. starts feature the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the Montreal Canadiens and the Detroit Red Wings visiting the Ottawa Senators on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. Also, the St. Louis Blues face the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers battle the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals take on the Chicago Blackhawks and the Atlanta Thrashers travel to Florida.

Later, the Boston Bruins continue their Western Conference road trip against the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Phoenix Coyotes, the Los Angeles Kings renew their California rivalry with the San Jose Sharks and the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames finish a home-and-home series which began Thursday.

Here's what to watch:

* The Canadiens, who are celebrating their centennial season, have beaten the Maple Leafs 326 of the 690 times the two clubs have met, including 205 victories in 345 home games. Even though the Canadiens finished first in the Eastern Conference last season and the Leafs failed to make the playoffs, the two clubs split their season series at four wins apiece. 

* Maple Leafs left wing Nikolai Kulemin scored the game-winning goal and had a plus-2 rating Thursday in Toronto's 3-2 upset of the Red Wings on Thursday.

* Detroit left wing Tomas Holmstrom, who was playing on a line with Marian Hossa in the team's opening game, scored both of the Red Wings' goals Thursday.

* Senators left wing Dany Heatley, who scored three goals in Ottawa's first two games during the Bridgestone NHL Premiere Stockholm, and has scored at least 40 goals in the last three seasons, has not scored against Detroit in four career games.

* St. Louis center David Backes, who represented the United States at the World Championship last season, was second on the team with 99 penalty minutes last season.

* Islanders captain Bill Guerin led the team with 23 goals last season, but had a minus-15 rating - the worst plus-minus rating of his career.

* The Flyers, who have an 18-15-7 opening-night record, had seven players score at least 20 goals last season.

* Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet, who signed a four-year contract with the Blackhawks this summer after helping the Capitals to the Southeast Division title last season, has never started more than 42 games in a season.

* Pittsburgh right wing Miroslav Satan, who has been playing alongside Sidney Crosby and Ruslan Fedotenko, had just 41 points last season, his lowest output since he had 10 points in 12 games with the Buffalo Sabres in 1996-97.

* The Hurricanes, who had key contributors Rod Brind'Amour, Justin Williams, Matt Cullen and Ray Whitney all lose significant time due to injury last season, already have Scott Walker and Williams on the injured reserve this season.

* Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who was the only player in the League to have 70 points and 100 penalty minutes last season, has a plus-51 rating in his last three seasons. Morrow led the Stars with 9 goals in the playoffs as Dallas advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they were defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Red Wings in six games.

* Phoenix right wing Shane Doan, who has led the Coyotes in scoring the last four seasons, had a career-high 50 assists last season. Doan, who has been with the Coyotes franchise since 1995-96, when it was the Winnipeg Jets, had his fewest penalty minutes last season since 2003-04.

* San Jose right wing Jonathan Cheechoo, who won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy in 2006 for leading the League with 56 goals, had 2 goals in the Sharks' opener Thursday, including the game-winner, in San Jose's 4-1 victory against Anaheim. 

* Vancouver, which scored the fewest goals in the Pacific Division last season with 213, beat division rival Calgary 6-0 Thursday night in both clubs' first game of the season.

* Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who was a candidate for the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman last season, played 23:29 and had a minus-2 rating Thursday in Calgary's first game.

* Boston right wing Blake Wheeler, who wasn't signed by the Coyotes who drafted him fifth in the 2004 Entry Draft, scored his first NHL goal in his first game Thursday in the Bruins' 5-4 victory against Colorado.

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