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Newest Flames hope to continue hot debut

by Adam Schwartz
Calgary's newest additions, Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold, who were acquired just prior to Wednesday's trade deadline, are fitting in just fine with their new club. In their first game Thursday against the Flyers, Jokinen scored two goals, including his third game-winning goal of the season, and Leopold scored his seventh goal to give the Flames a 5-1 win against the Flyers.

Flames fans can watch them go at it again tonight when they battle the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET, GCL), who are battling for their playoff lives, in one of five games tonight.  

The Canadiens, who are fifth in the Eastern Conference but just one point ahead of the Panthers, Rangers and Penguins, look to put some distance between them and the trailing trio when the Habs face the Thrashers (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN, RDS).

The Sabres are ninth in the East, three points out of a playoff spot, but they'll try to gain ground when they battle the Coyotes; the Blues try to remain alive in the Western Conference playoff hunt when they face the Lighting; and two bubble teams in the Western Conference will go at it when the Stars battle the Ducks.

Here's what to watch:

* Calgary defenseman Cory Sarich, who has set a career-high with 17 assists and tied a career-high of 19 points this season, is second on the team with 108 hits. Sarich, who averages 17:58 of ice time per game, has missed just two games since the start of the 2002-03 season.

* Hurricanes center Matt Cullen, who is in his second stint with the Hurricanes, has just 5 of his 14 assists at home. Cullen, who is second on the team with 20 goals, has scored just 2 goals in 23 career games against the Flames.

* Buffalo center Derek Roy, who leads Northeast Division forwards and is seventh among all NHL forwards with an average ice time of 21:46 per game, is tied for the Eastern Conference lead and is tied for second in the League with nine game-winning goals. Roy had at least 12 points in November, December and January, but had just 9 points in 13 games in February.

* The Coyotes, who have blocked the most shots in the Pacific Division at 938, have led after the first period in just 13 games. Phoenix, which is 15-22-5 in the 42 games they have been outshot in, is 10-6-0 in the 16 games they have outshot their opponent.

* Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov, who leads Eastern Conference defensemen with 41 assists, has the most power-play points among defensemen with 31. Markov, who has a minus-12 rating in 18 games since the All-Star break, is averaging the most ice time on the team at 24:31 per game.

* The Blues, who are 12th in the Western Conference but just four points out of a playoff spot, have won their last three road games, allowing just one goal in each of them. St. Louis, which has the fifth-best home power play in the League at 23.6 percent, is one of just eight teams with five or more shootout wins.

* Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos, who had 6 goals and 18 points in his first 45 games this season, has 7 goals and 11 points in his last 16 games. Stamkos, who joined Roman Hamrlik and Vincent Lecavalier as the third player to be picked first at an NHL Entry Draft by the Lightning, has 10 penalty minutes in six Friday games -- more than any other day of the week.

* Atlanta center Rich Peverley, who had 2 goals and 9 points in 27 games with the Predators, has 8 goals and 21 points in 21 games since being claimed off waivers by the Thrashers in January. Peverley, who has a dog named Bear, has 5 goals and 8 points in his last eight games. 

* The Ducks, who are 10th in the Western Conference despite having the same number of points as the eighth-place Oilers, start a five-game homestand Friday night. Anaheim, which leads the League with 1,140 penalty minutes and 729 road hits, has the fifth-best power play in the NHL at 21.6 percent.

* Dallas left wing Loui Eriksson, who is just one goal shy of his first 30-goal season, is averaging 19:28 of ice time after averaging 14:01 last season. He has just 2 goals and 3 points in 16 career games against Anaheim.

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