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Key games in both conferences highlight Friday @NHLdotcom
Playoff contenders in both conferences square off as part of the NHL’s seven-game schedule on Friday night.

The action begins at 7 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens, two of the three teams tied for the last three playoff spots in the East, meet at the Wachovia Center. Both are coming off losses to likely non-playoff teams – the Flyers were beaten 6-4 Thursday night on Long Island while the Canadiens were beaten 2-1 at home by Carolina on Wednesday. The game can be seen in Canada on TSN and RDS.

That game should be just about over when the slumping Colorado Avalanche take their two-point lead over Calgary for the last playoff spot in the West into a showdown with the Flames at the Pepsi Center. Colorado lost 5-2 to Anaheim at home on Wednesday in a game that ended about a half-hour before the Flames finished beating Phoenix 2-1 in Calgary.

In another game that starts at 7, the Chicago Blackhawks come to the Prudential Center for a meeting with New Jersey. The Devils have been off since a 1-0 overtime loss to Boston on Tuesday, while the Blackhawks come off a 4-0 win at Minnesota a night later.

The New York Rangers might be doing some scoreboard-watching as they open a two-game swing through Florida with a visit to Tampa Bay. The Rangers are just four points out of a playoff spot in the East thanks to a 3-0-1 run that includes a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Tuesday. The Lightning start a four-game homestand after a 2-0 win at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

At 8 p.m. ET, San Jose tries to rebound from a 5-1 loss at Dallas when it visits Minnesota. A half-hour later, the Stars host Edmonton. The last game of the night begins at 10 p.m. ET, with the Vancouver Canucks trying to rebound from an 8-3 rout in Los Angeles on Thursday when they visit Anaheim.
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