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Panthers looking to move into tie with Rangers

by Adam Schwartz
Desperate to end their playoff drought, the Florida Panthers get a chance to pull even with the idle New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference Friday when they host Southeast Division-rival Atlanta Thrashers (7:30 ET, GCL).

The Devils will try to end their six-game losing streak and trim the three-point gap between them and the Capitals when they face off against the Lightning, while the desperate Sabres are in Washington. Elsewhere, the Flyers, who will battle the Maple Leafs for the second time in three nights, are trying to jump past the idle Hurricanes for fourth place in the East.
Out West, the Flames try to hold on to their Northwest Division lead when they take on the Wild, who are just four points out of a playoff spot. The Predators will attempt to leapfrog the idle Blues to regain a playoff spot in the West when they are in Chicago. The Blackhawks are looking to move into fourth place past the Canucks, who aren't in action Friday.

Here are some quick-hitting stats:

* Devils left wing Zach Parise leads the Atlantic Division and is second in the League with 42 goals, but has just one goal in his last seven games. Parise is one of five Devils to play in all 77 New Jersey games and is just one point shy of recording 90 for the first time in his career.

* Philadelphia center Mike Richards leads the League with seven shorthanded goals and has seven more assists than any other Flyer, but has just one point in his last six games. Richards has tied his career-high of 75 points in a season and has scored 19 of his 29 goals at home.

* Capitals left wing Alexander Semin has missed 20 games with various injuries, but is second on the team and fifth in the League with an average of 1.26 points per game. Semin has just one assist and a minus-7 rating in nine career games against the Sabres, but has 12 assists and 19 points in his last 15 games.

* Florida right wing Nathan Horton has 11 home and 11 road assists and has 3 goals and 6 points in his last six games. Horton has also proved he is a clutch goal scorer, with 9 of his 21 goals in the third period.

* Flames center Olli Jokinen had 8 goals and 12 points in his first eight games since being traded to Calgary from Phoenix, but has just one assist in his last six games. Jokinen had a plus-3 rating in 42 games prior to the All-Star break, but has a minus-14 rating in 29 games since then.

* Minnesota defenseman Marek Zidlicky is tied for second in the League among Czech-born defensemen with 39 points, but has no points and a minus-3 rating in five games against Calgary this season. While Zidlicky has had eight multiple-point games this season, he has just one in his last 30 games.

* Predators center David Legwand, taken second in the 1998 Entry Draft, reached the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his career March 14 in Nashville's 2-0 shutout of the Coyotes. Legwand leads Nashville forwards with an average ice time of 19:26 and has 26 assists and 44 points in 46 career games against the Blackhawks, including 3 goals and 5 points in four games this season.

* Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is one of just five goalies in the League to have won the Stanley Cup and has worked his way into the role of go-to goalie in Chicago, starting eight of the Blackhawks' last 10 games. After losing the first three games during that span, Khabibulin has won four of his last five games, but still yielded four goals in two of those five games.

* Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski leads Northeast Division rookies and is fourth among rookies in the League with 45 points and has 9 assists and 13 points in his last eight games. Had Grabovski played in one more game last season with Montreal where he had 6 assists and 9 points in 24 games, he would have lost his rookie eligibility.

* Buffalo center Tim Connolly is averaging the most points per game among Sabres at .93, but has missed 34 games with rib and back injuries. Connolly has 4 goals and 6 points in his last four games, including two game-winning goals.

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