Friday night closes the fifth month of the NHL season with seven games.
Four early contests feature the Washington Capitals playing the New Jersey Devils for the second time in six days, the Buffalo Sabres hosting the Montreal Canadiens, the Minnesota Wild visiting Florida to play the Panthers and the San Jose Sharks visiting the Detroit Red Wings.
Later, the Toronto Maple Leafs battle the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Columbus Blue Jackets travel to Vancouver to face the Canucks and the Calgary Flames square off with the Anaheim Ducks.
Here’s what to watch:
* Capitals left wing Alexander Ovechkin, whose father, Mikhail, was a professional soccer player, has not scored in a season-long six games. Ovechkin, who has the most shots in the League with 344, leads the League with 48 goals.
* The Devils, who are first in the Eastern Conference with 80 points, have not lost in regulation in their last nine games. New Jersey, which has yielded the fewest goals in the conference with 150, has allowed more than two goals just once in its last 10 games.
* The Canadiens, who will play five of their next six games away from the Bell Centre, have a 19-9-4 road record. Montreal, which has won five of its last seven games, is just one point behind the Northeast Division-leading Ottawa Senators, who have lost their last three games.
* Sabres right wing Steve Bernier, who was acquired at Tuesday’s trade deadline along with a first-round draft pick for defenseman Brian Campbell, scored two goals and added an assist Wednesday in Buffalo’s 8-4 victory against the Nashville Predators.
* Minnesota right wing Pavol Demitra, who was selected No. 227 overall by the Senators in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, has 12 goals and six assists for 18 points and a plus-12 rating in 16 career games against the Panthers.
* Panthers left wing David Booth, who averages just 15:37 of ice time per game, has four goals and six assists for 10 points and a plus-3 rating in his last 13 games. Booth, who idolized former Detroit Red Wing Steve Yzerman growing up, leads Florida’s forwards with a plus-12 rating.
* San Jose right wing Jonathan Cheechoo, who scored 56 goals in the 2005-06 season, has nine of his 19 goals this season on the power play. Cheechoo has five goals in his last six games.
* Detroit, which has won just one of its last 10 games, has seen its once seemingly insurmountable Western Conference lead slip to just three points ahead of the second-place Dallas Stars. The Red Wings, who have scored the third-most goals in the League with 203, have been shut out in two of their last five games.
* Toronto center Nik Antropov, who has the second-most goals for the Maple Leafs with 22, has scored 10 of his goals during the power play. Antropov, whose favorite vacation spot is the Caribbean Sea, has a career-high of 48 points this season.
* Tampa Bay right wing Michel Ouellet, who leads the team with a plus-9 rating, has three goals and two assists for five points and a plus-6 rating in his last seven games.
* Columbus goalie Pascal Leclaire, who had a tremendous start to the season, has allowed at least three goals in three of his last five games, including allowing five goals on 28 shots Feb. 17 in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
* Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, whose .923 save percentage is the fourth-highest in the League, has just one regulation loss in his last 11 games and has allowed three or more goals just three times during that span.
* Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who had his car stolen Tuesday, has the most hits in the Northwest Division, with 166. Phaneuf, who is among the best defensemen in the League, plays 26:35 per game, more than 5 minutes more than any teammate.
* The Ducks have lost just one of their last 10 games, which coincided with Teemu Selanne’s return to the NHL. In Selanne’s 10 games, he has six goals and five assists for 11 points and a plus-3 rating. The Ducks, however, remain eight points behind the first-place Stars in the Pacific Division.
* Anaheim, which is tied for the third-most overtime and shootout victories, with nine, has had four different players – Mathieu Schneider, Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin and Samuel Pahlsson – score overtime goals.