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Weekly Primer

Teams get back to work after All-Star break

Blues-Predators, Panthers-Capitals among key games to watch this week

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The sun has set on the 2016 NHL All-Star weekend. Now it's time for the Nashville Predators to get back to work.

The Predators open the second half of the season seeking their fifth straight win when they host the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-TN, NHL.TV).

Nashville enters Tuesday in fifth place in the Central Division, one point behind the Colorado Avalanche. The Predators were 2-5-1 in their first eight games in January before turning things around.

"We're battling our way back into the playoff picture here," captain Shea Weber said. "The last four games have really helped."

Here are other games this week that should garner plenty of attention:

Tuesday, Feb. 2: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; ROOT, NHL.TV) -- The Penguins won their final three games heading into the All-Star break and are one point behind the New York Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division. Sidney Crosby has five goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.

Tuesday, Feb. 2: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN) -- The top two teams in the Eastern Conference collide at Verizon Center. Florida has won three straight games; Washington is 7-1-2 in its past 10 and entered the break with a 15-point lead atop the Metropolitan.

Tuesday, Feb. 2: San Jose Sharks at Anaheim Ducks (10 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, PRIME, FS-SD, NHL.TV) -- Are the Ducks primed for a big second half? Plagued by inconsistency for much of the first four months of the season, the Ducks headed into the break with a three-game winning streak and are within two points of third place in the Pacific Division.

Tuesday, Feb. 2: Columbus Blue Jackets at Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m. ET; FS-O, SNO, SNW, SNP, NHL.TV) -- Will this mark the return of Oilers rookie center Connor McDavid? The No. 1 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft hasn't played since Nov. 3 because of a fractured collarbone. He had 12 points in his first 13 games.

Wednesday, Feb. 3: Detroit Red Wings at Tampa Bay Lightning (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN) -- Tampa Bay was hit by the injury bug during the first half of the season, but the Lightning won eight of 10 heading into the break and have worked their way back into the Atlantic Division race, five points back of the Florida Panthers. They're tied for second place with the Red Wings, who boast the NHL's fastest skater, Dylan Larkin.

Thursday, Feb. 4: Anaheim Ducks at Los Angeles Kings (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN) -- The "Freeway Faceoff" resumes at Staples Center. The Kings are 1-3-0 in their past four games, and this will be their only home game until Feb. 23.

Saturday, Feb. 6: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars (8 p.m. ET; WGN, FS-SW+, NHLN, NHL.TV) -- Dallas entered the break three points back of the Blackhawks in the Central Division race. Chicago forward Patrick Kane (73 points) and Stars forwards Jamie Benn (58 points) and Tyler Seguin (53 points) are the top three scorers in the NHL.

Sunday, Feb. 7: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals (12 p.m. ET; NBC) -- A Metropolitan matinee before a nationally-televised audience at Verizon Center. Flyers forward Claude Giroux has a goal and three assists in his past three games; Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov has eight assists during a three-game point streak.

Video: STL@ANA: Getzlaf buries backhand in shootout

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks -- He's gone 11 games without a goal, but Getzlaf does have assists in seven of his past eight. They'll need him to continue to produce in the second half of the season if they plan on qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Getzlaf is amazing," forward David Perron told the Ducks website. "He's all over the ice. He's finding guys."

Rick Nash, New York Rangers -- He has 33 points in 45 games, but the power forward is capable of greater things and will need to score more consistently down the stretch; Nash has gone nine straight games without a goal and has two in the past 15.

Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings -- The All-Star goaltender has lost his past three starts and will have to come up big during a seven-game road trip that begins next week. Quick has already played 41 games this season and has a chance to at least match his 2014-15 workload, when he played 72 games.

POINT SHOTS

Arizona Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of 11 games in January and was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month. His play has helped Arizona stay in the thick of the playoff race. "Louis has done a terrific job to date and we need him to continue to do so even when Mike (Smith) returns," general manager Don Maloney told SiriusXM NHL Radio last week. … The New York Islanders could have defenseman Johnny Boychuk back in the lineup as early as Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild. Boychuk has been out because of an upper-body injury since Dec. 31. … The New Jersey Devils placed forward Michael Cammalleri (upper body) on injured reserve Monday. He leads the Devils with 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 42 games.

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