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Daily Primer Nov. 27: Lecavalier returns to Tampa

by John Kreiser

Vincent Lecavalier circled Wednesday night on his schedule right after he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers during the summer.

The Flyers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this season on Thanksgiving Eve, and for Lecavalier, it will be his first game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum as a visitor. He spent 14 seasons with the Lightning before being bought out last summer and quickly snapped up by the Flyers.

"It's obviously going to be a special day," Lecavalier said. "I'll be excited about it -- going back into the building, a different entranceway, different locker room. But I'm excited about it. I'm excited to play against my ex-teammates, friends, play in front of family. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Lecavalier will be honored as the Lightning's community hero and a video tribute will be shown on the scoreboard.

Here's a complete look at the 13 games on the pre-holiday schedule Wednesday:

Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres-- One team (Montreal) doesn't allow many goals; the other one (Buffalo) doesn't score many. The Canadiens have won their past three games, and they've allowed 49 non-shootout goals in 24 games. The Sabres are last in the NHL with 41 non-shootout goals; Buffalo is the only team that's averaging fewer than two goals a game. Buffalo won its first game after changing coaches early this month but has dropped four in a row under Ted Nolan and scored six goals in those games.

Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils-- Two teams with the exact same record begin a home-and-home series in Newark looking for a way to climb in the Metropolitan Division standings. Carolina snapped an 0-3-1 slide by beating the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Sunday, largely due to the 35-save performance by Cam Ward. The Devils have been getting terrific goaltending from Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur, but the offense continues to struggle. New Jersey lost 3-1 at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday and has dropped back-to-back games while scoring one goal in each.

Winnipeg Jets at New York Islanders-- Having beaten the Devils to start a six-game trip, the Jets head for Long Island, where the Islanders are trying to put the wheels back on their season after an 0-3-0 trip. This could be a run-and-gun game; neither team is very good defensively and is banged up on the blue line, and each has some top-end offensive talent. Mark Scheifele and Evander Kane ended goal droughts against the Devils on Monday; John Tavares (10 goals, 27 points) is in the top five in the NHL scoring race.

Ottawa Senators at Washington Capitals-- The Senators come to Washington losers of four of their past five games and six points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Part of Ottawa's problem is that its goaltenders are seeing too many shots; at 35.8 per game, the Senators allow more opposition shots than anyone except Buffalo. The Capitals have 67 non-shootout goals and Alex Ovechkin has scored 20 of them. No one else is in double figures -- Joel Ward is second with nine. Washington had 50 shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night but only Ovechkin got one past James Reimer in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets -- These teams used to be rivals in the Central Division but are meeting for the first of two times this season now that Columbus is in the Eastern Conference. The Predators need more goals from defenseman Shea Weber; they are 7-0-0 when he scores, as he did (into an empty net) in a 4-2 win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. Columbus returns home after a wildly up-and-down 3-2-0 road trip. The Blue Jackets were outscored 13-2 in their two losses, but won the other three games and are returning to Nationwide Arena after blowing out the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-0 on Monday.

Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings -- The battered Red Wings might be catching the Bruins at the wrong time. Detroit will be without star center Pavel Datsyuk and first-line forward Todd Bertuzzi as well as defenseman Danny DeKeyser. Jonas Gustavsson will get the call in goal instead of Jimmy Howard. The Atlantic Division-leading Bruins have won back-to-back games in overtime, including a 4-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, and will bring defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid to Detroit in hopes that one or both of the injured defensemen will be ready to play.

Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Flyers are finishing a two-game swing through the Sunshine State, but their seven-game unbeaten streak in regulation came to a crashing halt Monday night when they were beaten 3-1 by the Florida Panthers. Lecavalier didn't score in that game, but he shares the team lead with eight goals. The Lightning lost four in a row on their trip through Arizona and California, but made it nine wins in 11 games at Tampa Bay Times Forum this season when they blanked the New York Rangers 5-0 on Monday. Martin St. Louis, Lecavalier's longtime teammate, celebrated his 1,000th NHL game by scoring twice.

New York Rangers at Florida Panthers -- The Rangers and Flyers are changing places from Monday and hoping for better results. The Rangers figure to have plenty of fans at BB&T Center hoping for a better performance than the one New York gave at Tampa, where Henrik Lundqvist was knocked out after two periods. The Rangers haven't scored more than three goals since the last time these teams met, a 4-3 New York victory 17 days ago. After a 1-3-0 start, Florida is 4-4-1 under new coach Peter Horachek, including its victory against the Flyers on Monday.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Maple Leafs won't have one of their best forwards, Joffrey Lupul, who's out with a groin strain sustained in a 6-0 home loss to Columbus on Monday, a game in which Toronto managed all of 18 shots. The Penguins are back at Consol Energy Center, where they are 10-3-0, after road losses to the Canadiens and Boston Bruins. The 4-3 loss in Boston was especially frustrating -- Pittsburgh tied the game on a goal by Sidney Crosby with 0.3 seconds left in regulation only to lose in overtime.

Phoenix Coyotes at Minnesota Wild -- Both teams may be missing some star power. Coyotes captain Shane Doan sat out practice on Tuesday after leaving a 4-2 loss Monday night in Nashville with a lower body injury. However, coach Dave Tippett wouldn't rule him out. The Wild know they will be without their leading scorer, Zach Parise, who will miss at least two weeks with a bruised foot sustained when he blocked a shot in a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Monday. They may or may not have goaltender Josh Harding and forward Mikael Granlund, both of whom are also battling injuries.

St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche -- You can bet the Avalanche haven't forgotten the 7-3 whipping the Blues laid on them in St. Louis 13 days ago. The Blues come to Denver with a four-game winning streak in which they've allowed four goals. Colorado has a three-game winning streak of its own, including a 1-0 overtime victory on the road against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday in which the Avalanche allowed L.A. all of 19 shots. Semyon Varlamov, who got the shutout against the Kings, will be in goal against St. Louis.

Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames -- The Blackhawks are trying to join the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars, both of which swept three consecutive games in Western Canada. Chicago looked every bit like the defending Stanley Cup champs on Monday; the Blackhawks rolled into Rexall Place and whipped the Edmonton Oilers 5-1, a game they led 4-0 before the midway point of the second period. The Flames are 2-0-1 in their three games, with both wins coming in shootouts. Their last non-shootout win came on Nov. 3, when they beat the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime at Chicago.

Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks-- Home teams have dominated this series during the past couple of seasons; the guys in the dark sweaters have won the past 12 games, including all seven in their first-round playoff series last spring and the Kings' 4-3 overtime victory in L.A. on Oct. 30. The Kings come to the Bay area after stealing a 3-2 overtime victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night behind the goaltending of Ben Scrivens, who's 5-0-2 in seven starts since Jonathan Quick was injured. The Sharks have won the first two game of a five-game homestand and are 7-1-2 at SAP Center, including a 2-1 win against New Jersey on Saturday.

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