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Daily Primer Dec. 31: Going out with a bang

by John Kreiser

The NHL is sending 2013 into the history books with a full day of hockey.

No fewer than 22 teams will say goodbye to the old year by taking the ice, beginning when the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils take the ice just after 1 p.m. ET at Prudential Center and ending just before midnight in the East when the final buzzers go off to end games between the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes and the Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames.

Here's a full look at all the action on the final day of 2013:

Pittsburgh Penguins at New Jersey Devils -- The Penguins begin the second half of their season hoping to build on their first-half success. Pittsburgh is tops in the Eastern Conference with 59 points and is running away with the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have won nine of their past 10 games, including a 5-3 road victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday in which James Neal had a hat trick and two assists. New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr, a member of the Penguins' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and '92, needs one point to tie Pittsburgh legend Mario Lemieux for seventh place on the all-time points list.

New York Rangers at Florida Panthers -- The Rangers are going for a sweep of their two-game swing through the Sunshine State after holding off the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Sunday night. They'll have defenseman Marc Staal back in the lineup after a 10-game absence due to a concussion. Florida concludes a three-game stretch at home against Original Six teams; the Panthers lost 4-3 to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday then beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Sunday. Florida has gotten a lift from Sean Bergenheim, who has four goals in three games after scoring four in his first 22.

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild -- The Blues come to St. Paul riding a 4-0-1 streak that includes back-to-back weekend wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. Their plus-45 goal differential is the best in the NHL, and they may be catching the Wild at the right time. Minnesota has dropped five in a row and is 5-11-1 in its past 17 games. The Wild are coming off a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday night in which they couldn't hold a 3-0 lead.

New York Islanders at Boston Bruins -- Boston has always been a tough stop for the Islanders, but it's become a difficult place for all visitors this season. The Bruins are 16-3-2 at TD Garden, including 13-0-2 in their past 15. The Islanders, last in the Metropolitan Division, won the first meeting between the teams eight weeks ago on Long Island, and are coming off the 5-4 win at Minnesota -- a game in which they overcame a three-goal deficit to win for the first time since 1994. Boston split a home-and-home series against the Ottawa Senators, winning 5-0 at home Friday but losing 4-3 on the road 24 hours later.

Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes -- The Hurricanes are making a New Year's Eve pit stop at PNC Center; they're coming off a 5-2 road loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and visit the Washington Capitals and the Islanders in their next two games. Montreal comes to Raleigh after splitting two weekend games in Florida; the Canadiens beat the Lightning in a shootout before losing to the Panthers. Carolina has dropped five in a row, including three straight at home, to fall to seventh in the Metropolitan Division.

Buffalo Sabres at Winnipeg Jets -- The Sabres still aren't scoring much; their 71 goals are 20 fewer than any other team in the NHL. But Ryan Miller's goaltending gives them a chance every night. Miller stopped 49 of 50 shots through 65 minutes and six more in the shootout to give Buffalo a 2-1 win against Washington on Sunday. Fortunately for Winnipeg, backup Jhonas Enroth is scheduled get the call at MTS Centre. The Jets have won back-to-back games, including a 2-1 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Sunday, but they're still six points out of a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars -- The Kings were on a roll when the teams met in L.A. eight days ago and the Stars left Staples Center with a 5-2 victory in their final game before the Christmas break. Los Angeles returned to action on the road, but lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on Saturday and 1-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday in a game that saw them fire 26 shots on goal and be credited with 45 hits - but score no goals. The Stars are 4-0-2 in their past six games and 1-0-1 in two post-Christmas contests, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blues on Sunday.

Columbus Blue Jackets at Colorado Avalanche -- Getting away from the Avalanche is one of the side benefits of realignment for the Blue Jackets, who are 13-30-1-3 all-time against Colorado and 6-16-0-2 in Denver. It's the first of four games in seven days on the road for Columbus after a full house at Nationwide Arena on Sunday saw the Penguins win 5-3. Colorado has cooled off after its hot start and has dropped four in a row, though three of the losses have come after regulation. It's the second of a seven-game homestand for the Avalanche, who won't play again on the road until Jan. 11 in Minnesota.

San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks -- The Sharks ended the Ducks' franchise-record 10-game winning streak Sunday night with a 3-1 win at San Jose in the front end of a home-and-home series. Though the Sharks bring a four-game winning streak of their own to Orange County, getting the sweep figures to be more difficult: Anaheim is 14-0-2 at Honda Center, the only team that has not lost in regulation in its own building. The Ducks are among the NHL's top teams despite getting little help from the power play. They are 26th with the extra man at 14.5 percent.

Philadelphia Flyers at Calgary Flames -- The Flyers have never been particularly good at shootouts (27-46 all-time), but they've won back-to-back games via the tiebreaker to begin their annual post-Christmas road trip. Philadelphia got a sixth-attacker goal by Brayden Schenn against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday to get past regulation before Vincent Lecavalier's shootout goal produced a 4-3 win. The Flames would like to ring out the old year with a few goals; they've been shut out in their first two games after the Christmas break.

Edmonton Oilers at Phoenix Coyotes-- The Oilers end the old year in the desert before starting the new one in Southern California later in the week. Edmonton is 2-0-1 in its three games, though the Oilers let a two-goal lead against the Flyers get away and had to settle for a point in a 4-3 shootout loss. Nail Yakupov, the top pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, won't dress. The Coyotes have points in their past five games, but have won just once in that span; all five games went past regulation. Captain Shane Doan skated with the team at practice Monday, but there's no date set for his return from a battle with Rocky Mountain spotted fever symptoms.

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