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Sweet 16 teams in action tonight

by Adam Schwartz
Martin Straka and the New York Rangers host Evgeni Malkin and the division-rival Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at Madison
Square Garden. New York has won three of five meetings.
After just two games Monday night, the NHL kicks back into full swing Tuesday with eight games.

Four 7 p.m. games features the Toronto Maple Leafs facing the New York Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins battling the New York Rangers in an Atlantic Division showdown, the Philadelphia Flyers hosting the Atlanta Thrashers and the Calgary Flames concluding their four-game road trip in Columbus.

Later, the St. Louis Blues make a rare visit to Montreal, the Nashville Predators play the Washington Capitals, the Phoenix Coyotes take on the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks renew their Californian rivalry with the Los Angeles Kings.

Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

* Toronto defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, whose best friend in the NHL is teammate Matt Stajan, has all four of his assists this season in his last five games. Colaiacovo, who is generally known for his play in his own zone, averages 17:57 of ice time per game.

* Islanders right wing Blake Comeau, who averages just 10:39 of ice time per game, has two goals and one assist for three points and a minus-4 rating in his last four games.

* The Penguins, who have the third-best power-play percentage in the League with a 20.6 success rate, are one point behind the New Jersey Devils for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh, which is tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the most goals in the Atlantic Division with 220, has scored the most third-period goals in the division with 74.

* Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival, who leads Rangers defensemen with 35 points, has no points and a minus-3 rating in his last five games while playing at least 24 minutes in four games during that span.

* Philadelphia, which has lost its last four games and is currently in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, is just one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres and two points ahead of the Florida Panthers and the Capitals.

* Thrashers left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who has the second-most goals in the League with 49, has seven goals and three assists for 10 points in his last seven games while playing at least 20 minutes in five games during that span.

* Calgary left wing Kristian Huselius, who is just three assists shy of his career high of 43, has three goals and two assists for five points and a plus-3 rating in his last four games.

* Blue Jackets right wing Jared Boll, who leads the team with 202 penalty minutes, is the only Western Conference rookie to have at least 100 hits with 120.

* The Blues, who are out of the Western Conference playoff picture, have not played in Montreal since Jan. 13, 2004, when they suffered a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Habs. St. Louis, which is in last place in the Central Division, is tied with the Islanders for fewest goals in the League with 176.

* Montreal left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, who played with Chicago Blackhawks rookie sensation Patrick Kane for the London Knights of the OHL last season, has the highest points per game average among rookies in the Northeast Division with .53 points per game.

* Washington center Brooks Laich, who has 30 points in 73 games this season, has six goals and one assist for seven points in his last seven games while playing more than 17 minutes just once during that span.

* Nashville right wing Alexander Radulov, who is third among Nashville players with 24 goals, has scored just one goal in his last 14 games. 

* Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who leads Phoenix defensemen with 49 points and seven power-play goals, leads the team with an average of 22:53 of ice time per game. Jovanovski, selected No. 1 overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Panthers, has the second-most missed shots among Coyotes with 74.

* Oilers center Robert Nilsson, who was traded to Edmonton in a trade which saw Ryan Smyth go to the Islanders, has one goal and two assists for three points in two games against the Coyotes this season. Nilsson, 23, leads the team with a plus-8 rating.

* Sharks goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who has played in all but three San Jose games this season, leads the League with 41 wins. Nabokov, who is second in the League with a 2.13 goals-against average, has not lost a game in regulation time in his last 11 and has allowed more than two goals just once during that span.

* Kings center Anze Kopitar, who leads the team with 40 assists and 69 points, has five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 13 career games against the Sharks, including two goals and three assists for five points in five games this season.

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