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NHL Network slate features top teams, rivalries @NHLdotcom

With the playoff push slowly starting to take shape this season, the NHL Network will be featuring five crucial contests over three days, each of which could potentially make or break certain teams' playoff hopes.

It all begins Thursday as the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes play host to the Washington Capitals for a vitally-important divisional matchup. Despite a variety of stumbles, the Washington Capitals remain within striking distance of the Hurricanes at the halfway point of the season. But Alex Ovechkin and his teammates will need to steal two points from their division rivals if they wish to maintain their postseason hopes.

One make-or-break divisional matchup leads directly into another, as Friday night will see the second half of a home-and-home between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. The two Atlantic Division nemeses are battling for playoff position and with the Flyers currently on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference's top eight, this game could ultimately decide which direction their season goes in.

It all culminates on Saturday in an NHL Network triple-header featuring many of the League's hottest teams. It begins at 1:00 p.m. ET, when the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins play host to a star-studded New York Rangers team in the latest installment of one of hockey's most exciting rivalries. From there, the surprising Montreal Canadiens look to retain top spot in the Eastern Conference as they come to Prudential Center to take on the Devils.

The NHL Network action all wraps up at 10:00 p.m. ET, as the Detroit Red Wings are in Vancouver to take on the Northwest Division-leading Canucks. Expect plenty of action as some of the world's most gifted playmakers faceoff in a matchup between two of the League's most exciting teams.

For more information about this weekend's top matchups, visit or tune in to the NHL Network.

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