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Top teams in action on 12-game Saturday schedule

NHL.com @NHL
The three top teams in the NHL will all be in action Saturday as part of a 12-game schedule that will entertain hockey fans from early afternoon until late into the evening.

The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, co-leaders in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy with 68 points apiece, and the Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey Devils, who have 65 points, all play in the afternoon.

The Blackhawks help start the day’s action at 2 p.m. ET when they finish off a home-and-home with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is also the beginning of a season-long, eight-game road trip for Chicago.

One hour later, the Devils continue a five-game trip of their own by visiting the Colorado Avalanche. New Jersey will look to rebound from a rare road loss in Phoenix on Thursday, while Colorado is battling for first place in the Northwest Division.

Then, at 4 p.m., the Sharks welcome in the struggling Edmonton Oilers, whose 37 points are just two ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for fewest in the League.

Among the nine other games Saturday, there are two other matinee affairs. The Detroit Red Wings will try to crack the top eight when they visit the Dallas Stars at 2 p.m. The Wings are just one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Kings, who snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday by blanking Anaheim, play host to the Boston Bruins at 4 p.m.

The evening’s action gets under way with a triumvirate of 7 p.m. starts. The Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens meet at the Bell Centre with identical 23-21-4 records, holding down the last two Eastern Conference playoff berths. The Northeast-leading Buffalo Sabres visit the New York Islanders, who are close behind the Sens and Habs, and could give goalie Rick DiPietro his second start of the season. Also, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers complete a home-and-home in Sunrise; the Panthers rallied in the third period Thursday for a 3-2 road win.

Three more games face off at 8 p.m. The Hurricanes host the Atlanta Thrashers in a battle of Southeast foes, the New York Rangers look to score a goal for the first time in three games as they travel to play the St. Louis Blues, who have won three straight under new coach Davis Payne, and the Coyotes shoot for their second straight win when the Minnesota Wild visit the desert.

Fans will want to stay up late for Saturday’s finale, as Sidney Crosby leads the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins against the Vancouver Canucks. The Penguins are 3-1 on a five-game road trip, with consecutive wins over Calgary and Edmonton. They may be without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who broke his left ring finger in beating the Oilers on Thursday.







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