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Crosby, Penguins open Hockey Night tripleheader

by Adam Schwartz
A Hockey Night in Canada tripleheader headlines an eventful 12-game night in the NHL.

First is the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Ottawa Senators (2 p.m. ET, CBC), followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs facing the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US) and the Edmonton Oilers playing their second game in California in two days when they take on the Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET, CBC, NHLN-US). 

In addition to the Leafs-Capitals game, there are five other 7 p.m. starts. The New Jersey Devils visit the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS); the Atlanta Thrashers conclude their three-game road trip against the New York Islanders; the Carolina Hurricanes host the Philadelphia Flyers; the Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins visit the Florida Panthers; and the Detroit Red Wings play the third of a four-game homestand against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Later, the Buffalo Sabres go for their third win in four games when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning; the Minnesota Wild travel to Nashville; the Phoenix Coyotes go for their fifth win in six games when they play the St. Louis Blues; and the Columbus Blue Jackets play the middle game of their three-game California road trip against the Los Angeles Kings.

Here's what to keep an eye on:

* Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski, who has a goal and an assist in two career games against the Senators, leads rookie defensemen with 11 points. Goligoski, the only rookie to regularly play for Pittsburgh this season, is averaging 19:06 of ice time per game, more than any other rookie in the Atlantic Division.

* Columbus defenseman Mike Commodore, who has played for three teams in the last two seasons, leads the team with 53 blocked shots and 66 hits. Commodore, a stay-at-home defenseman who has never had more than 22 assists in a season, has 10 assists in 25 games this season, putting him on pace for 32.

* Capitals center Boyd Gordon, who averages just 13:23 of ice time per game, has the second-best faceoff winning percentage in the Southeast Division, at 57.0 percent. Gordon, who has been with Washington longer than any other current Capital, averages the second-most shorthanded ice time among Capitals forwards at 3:36 per game.

* San Jose, which is first in the League with 45 points, is the first team in the League to score 100 goals. The Sharks, who have a 10-1-1 record in one-goal games, have a 7-0 record while being outshot.

* Canadiens left wing Alex Tanguay, who leads the team with 9 goals, scored the game-winning goal Thursday night in the Habs' 6-2 victory against the New York Rangers. The goal snapped a seven-game point drought.

* Atlanta defenseman Niclas Havelid, who won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Olympics, leads the team and is second in the Southeast Division with 61 blocked shots. Havelid, who didn't play his first NHL game until he was 26, has played at least 22 minutes in two of his last three games.

* The Flyers, who have lost three of their last four games, have the best power play in the Eastern Conference, at 24.0 percent. Philadelphia, which is one of just three teams without a shootout win this season, is tied for second in the conference with six overtime/shootout losses.

* Boston right wing Phil Kessel, who has seven more goals than any other Bruin, is third in the Eastern Conference with 15 goals. Kessel, who had 19 goals last season, has 5 goals in his last four games.

* Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, who has at least 25 goals in each of his last four seasons, has 8 goals through 25 games this season, but hasn't scored in the last five games. Datsyuk, who led the League with 144 takeaways last season, leads the Wings with 25 takeaways this season.

* The Sabres, who are third in the Northeast Division and nine points behind the second-place Canadiens, have just two plus players. Buffalo has a 4-5-2 road record, but has lost their last five road games.

* Nashville center Jason Arnott, who leads the team with 13 goals, has 5 goals in his last six games. Arnott, who has only scored more than 30 goals twice in his career, is on pace to score a career-high 47 goals this season.

* Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who has assists in his last two games, has blocked 34 more shots than any other Phoenix player. Michalek, whose brother Milan plays for the Sharks, leads the team at 23:39 of ice time per game.    

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