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Stamkos, Crosby poised to set 48-game marks

by John Kreiser

The first half of the 2012-13 has flown by. It's been a fantastic one for the Chicago Blackhawks, who have yet to lose in regulation, as well as for the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens, who are leading their divisions at the midway point after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. Some teams from whom much was expected, such as Philadelphia and Washington, are trying to dig out after poor first halves.

The race for the 16 playoff spots figures to be tighter than ever -- no team enters the weekend more than seven points out of a postseason berth.

Here's a look at some of the key first-half numbers:

0 -- Shootouts involving the Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals, the only three teams that have yet to take part in a tiebreaker. At the other end of the spectrum, the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks have had seven games decided in shootouts; the Sharks and Ducks are both 4-3, while at 2-5 the Canucks haven't been quite as good.

1 -- Games that were scoreless after 65 minutes. Phoenix beat San Jose 1-0 in a shootout on Feb. 9 in the 29th scoreless game to go to the tiebreaker since the adoption of the shootout.

2 -- Overtime goals by Marian Gaborik of the Rangers and Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks. They're the only players who've scored more than once in OT. In all, 40 games have been decided in the five-minute extra period.

3 -- Hat tricks by members of the Anaheim Ducks, the most by any team so far this season. No other team has more than two of the 18 three-goal games this season.

4 -- Teams that have not lost a point when leading after two periods. Carolina and Pittsburgh have the best perfect record at 9-0-0; the Hurricanes are also the only unbeaten team when leading after one period (4-0-0).

5 -- Players tied for the plus-minus lead at plus-17. That group includes Carolina captain Eric Staal, who has made a 180-degree turnaround from his minus-20 rating last season.

6 -- Points in the second quarter by Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, a huge drop from the 23 he put up in the season's first quarter. He's dropped from first in the points race at the quarter mark to a tie for fifth.

James Neal
Left Wing - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 23
SOG: 81 | PPG: 8
7 -- Goals allowed by the Boston Bruins' penalty-killers, the fewest in the League. Boston is tops with a 91.9 percentage, and its PK unit has chipped in with three shorthanded goals as well.

8 -- Power-play goals by the Colorado Avalanche, the fewest in the NHL. Colorado has scored as many power-play goals as Pittsburgh's James Neal, who's tops among all players with eight.

.871 -- Save percentage by St. Louis' three goaltenders, the poorest in the NHL. The Blues have allowed 69 non-shootout goals despite permitting a League-low 23.3 shots per game.

10 -- Games this season in which Islanders center John Tavares has not recorded a point. The Isles are 1-7-2 in those games; they are 9-4-1 when Tavares hits the scoresheet.

11 -- Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks entering this weekend. It's the longest winning streak of any team this season -- and the longest in the history of the franchise, which began play in the NHL in 1926.

12 -- Points for Edmonton's Nail Yakupov, the first player taken in last year's NHL Draft. Yakupov has six goals and six assists. His 12 points matches his plus-minus rating, kind of -- he's minus-12.

13 -- Combined goals in Pittsburgh's 7-6 overtime victory at Montreal on March 2. It's the most goals by two teams in a game this season. No other game has had more than 11.

18 -- League-leading goal total for Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, who was tops in the NHL last season with 60. He's on a pace for 36 goals in this season's 48-game schedule, two more than Peter Bondra, the leader in 1994-95, the last 48-game season.

19 -- Penalty shots called so far this season. Only five have been successful -- and two of those belong to Florida rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, the only player to be awarded more than one opportunity.

Cory Conacher
Center - TBL
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 20
SOG: 39 | +/-: -1
20 -- Points by Tampa Bay's Cory Conacher, the most by any rookie this season. Last season's American Hockey League MVP has seven goals and 13 assists in his first NHL season. Huberdeau is second with 16 points and tops in goals with 11.

24 -- Games without a regulation loss by the Blackhawks. Chicago's 21-0-3 start marks the longest season-opening streak of getting at least one point. Counting its 3-0-3 season-ending streak in 2011-12, Chicago has points in 30 consecutive regular-season games, five short of the NHL record set by Philadelphia in 1979-80.

25 -- Percent of games this season that have gone past regulation. Over a full season, it would be the highest percentage since the adoption of the shootout for the 2005-06 season. There have been 47 shootouts and 40 games decided in overtime.

30 -- Shooting percentage of Boston's Brad Marchand, the best of any player with an average of more than one shot per game. Marchand has 12 goals on just 40 shots.

39 -- Points for NHL scoring leader Sidney Crosby of the Penguins after 24 games. Crosby's pace would give him 78 points in the 48-game season -- eight more than League-leaders Jaromir Jagr and Eric Lindros had in 1994-95, the last time the season was 48 games.

Brandon Prust
Left Wing - MTL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 5 | PIM: 81
SOG: 27 | +/-: 13
56 -- Shots on goal by the Oilers against Colorado on Feb. 16, the most by one team in any game this season and the only time a team has had 50 or more shots in a game. The Oilers trailed 3-0 and 4-1 but kept firing away and rallied to beat the Avalanche 6-4.

81 -- Penalty minutes for Montreal's Brandon Prust, the NHL leader. However, Prust does more than pile up penalty minutes -- he has four goals, nine points and is plus-13, the best plus-minus rating of any player with 40 or more PIM.

116 -- Hits credited to Islanders forward Matt Martin, the League leader at the midway point of the season. Martin, who set an NHL record for hits last season, has six more than runner-up Steve Ott of Buffalo.

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