Two teams desperately fighting for position in both the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference will clash on the NHL Network (U.S. only) on Thursday night.
The Washington Capitals
-- who currently sit two points out of eighth place in the East and four points back of first-place Florida in the Southeast, will host the Tampa Bay Lightning
at the Verizon Center. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
Tampa Bay (31-29-6) is just four points back of eighth-place Winnipeg, but the Lightning learned Wednesday they'll be without goalie Mathieu Garon
for the next 3-4 weeks due to a groin injury. Dwayne Roloson
-- who has a 3.82 goals-against average and .878 save percentage in 29 games this season -- is expected to get the start Thursday night.
Five of 12 games begin at 7 p.m. ET. The Boston Bruins
host the Buffalo Sabres
at TD Garden, while the New York Islanders
face the New Jersey Devils
at the Prudential Center. Also, the Panthers are in Philadelphia to take on the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
The New York Rangers
, who lead the East with 91 points, return to action to face the Ottawa Senators
at Scotiabank Place at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Two games get under way at 8 p.m. ET -- the St. Louis Blues
host the Anaheim Ducks
at the Scottrade Center, while the Colorado Avalanche
face the Nashville Predators
at Bridgestone Arena.
Thirty minutes later, the Dallas Stars
return home after completing a sweep of Western Canada to battle the San Jose Sharks
at the American Airlines Center. Dallas leads the Sharks by three points in the Pacific Division race.
At 9 p.m. ET, the Minnesota Wild
travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.The Montreal Canadiens
are in action at 9:30 pm. ET, when they'll face the Edmonton Oilers
at Rexall Place (RDS in Canada).
In the final game of the evening, the Vancouver Canucks
host the Winnipeg Jets
at Rogers Arena. That showdown begins at 10 p.m. ET.