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Weekly Primer

Crosby, Ovechkin going head to head for 50th time highlights week in NHL

Battle of Alberta between Flames, Oilers among can't-miss events

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin go head to head in the regular season for the 50th time in the NHL and the Battle of Alberta continues between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. But there are more stories to watch this week. Here are the top five along with fantasy can't-miss players.


50th NHL game between Crosby, Ovechkin headlines Super Bowl Sunday

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will go head to head in the regular season for the 50th time in the NHL when the Pittsburgh Penguins play the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC) in the first of three games on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Crosby and the Penguins are 30-17-2 against Ovechkin and the Capitals since each joined the NHL in 2005, with Pittsburgh's captain having 70 points (24 goals, 46 assists). Ovechkin and the Capitals are 19-23-7 facing Crosby and the Penguins. Washington's captain has 51 points (30 goals, 21 assists) in those games.

Ovechkin is eight goals from becoming the eighth player to score 700 in the NHL. His 692 goals are tied with Steve Yzerman for ninth in NHL history and two behind Mark Messier (694) for eighth.

The Capitals (33-11-5) and Penguins (31-14-5) are the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division and face off for the first time this season. 

The Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre (2 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, SNW, TVAS, FS-O, NHL.TV) and the Vancouver Canucks play the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena (2 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN360, SNP, FS-CR, NHL.TV) on Super Bowl Sunday.

Video: WSH@NYI: Ovechkin collects hat trick vs. Islanders


Battle of Alberta continues between Flames, Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers will try to defeat the Calgary Flames for the first time this season when the Battle of Alberta resumes at Rogers Place on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; SN360, SNE, SNO, SNW, TVAS, NHL.TV).

The Flames have defeated the Oilers twice, 5-1 in Edmonton on Dec. 27 and 4-3 in Calgary on Jan. 11. They're tied for second in the Pacific Division with 57 points each, one behind the Canucks.


Spezza returns to Dallas with Maple Leafs

Jason Spezza will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, FS-SW, NHL.TV) for the first time since the forward signed a one-year contract with Toronto on July 1 after five seasons in Dallas.

Spezza, chosen by the Ottawa Senators with the No. 2 pick in the 2001 NHL Draft, has 933 points (338 goals, 595 assists) in 17 NHL seasons, the first 11 playing for the Senators. The veteran forward had 228 points (81 goals, 147 assists) in 379 games for the Stars. He has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in 37 games with the Maple Leafs.

Video: EDM@TOR: Spezza completes pretty passing sequence


NHL veterans approaching 1,000 games

Two veterans are each expected to play their 1,000th NHL game Saturday.

Valtteri Filppula is expected to become the eighth Finland-born player to reach the milestone when the Detroit Red Wings face the New York Rangers at Little Caesars Arena (7 p.m. ET; FS-D, MSG 2, NHL.TV). His 998 games are second among active NHL skaters born in Finland behind Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu (1,009). Teemu Selanne is first with (1,451).

Alexander Steen should also hit the mark for the St. Louis Blues against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place (7 p.m. ET; SN360, SNW, FS-MW, NHL.TV). The forward, selected by the Maple Leafs with the No. 24 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, has played his past 12 seasons with the Blues. 


Hynes back in New Jersey as Predators coach

John Hynes will coach the Nashville Predators against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVAS, NHL.TV) for the first time since he was fired by the Devils on Dec. 3.

Hynes is 3-3-0 after replacing Peter Laviolette on Jan. 7. He was 150-159-45 in five seasons with the Devils and coached them to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2017-18, when they lost the Eastern Conference First Round to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.


Fantasy can't-miss picks

Rickard Rakell, ANA: The Anaheim Ducks forward has three points (two goals, one assist) and 14 shots on goal in his past four games. He gains additional value this week with four games against the San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings. -- Rob Reese

Anthony Cirelli, TBL: The 22-year-old center had a hat trick against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 17 and has six points (three goals, three assists) in his past three games. The Tampa Bay Lightning return from their League-mandated break on Monday and play four games this week, making Cirelli worth adding in standard leagues. -- Pete Jensen

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