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Twenty of the NHL's 30 teams play Thursday night.

by Adam Schwartz
A trio of 7 p.m. starts features the New Jersey Devils facing off against the Boston Bruins.
A trio of 7 p.m. starts features the New Jersey Devils facing off against the Boston Bruins, the Phoenix Coyotes taking on the New York Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens traveling to Philadelphia to play the Flyers.

Three 7:30 p.m. starts include the Ottawa Senators against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Calgary Flames, and the Edmonton Oilers facing the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Later, the Nashville Predators host the Colorado Avalanche, the St. Louis Blues take on the Florida Panthers, the Los Angeles Kings face off against the Dallas Stars and the Vancouver Canucks visit the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion.

Here’s what to watch for:

* Following a nine-game winning streak, the Devils have lost their last two games. They lost 1-0 in overtime Sunday night to their cross-river rivals, the New York Rangers, and then dropped a 3-2 decision Monday to the Washington Capitals.

* Boston goalie Alex Auld has stopped 92 of 97 shots in the three games – all Bruins’ victories – he has played since being traded to Boston from the Coyotes on Dec. 6

* The Coyotes visit the Islanders for the first time since Oct. 29, 2003 and are in the midst of a six-game bi-costal road trip. Phoenix kicked off its road trip Sunday with a 4-2 win in Los Angeles. The Coyotes will play the Islanders, Devils, Rangers and Flyers before returning west to conclude their trip in San Jose.

* Islanders’ forward Mike Sillinger played more than 21 minutes in each of the past two games. He was on the ice 21:33 Wednesday night in New York’s 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres and played 22:15 Saturday in the Islanders’ 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay. He recorded a plus-2 rating during that span. 

* Montreal has won just once in four games since goalie Cristobal Huet suffered a groin injury Dec. 3. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik is minus-3 in his past two games.

* Philadelphia kicked off a three-game homestand Tuesday with an 8-2 victory against its Pennsylvania rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers were led by Joffrey Lupul and R.J. Umberger, who scored hat tricks in the game. The Flyers will conclude their homestand Saturday, when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Wachovia Center.  

* Pittsburgh goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury is sidelined for six to eight weeks with a high ankle sprain. Pittsburgh has called up former Buffalo Sabre and Edmonton Oiler Ty Conklin, who will back up Dany Sabourin.

* Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber will get another crack at being the Senators’ top goalie. Goalie Ray Emery faced only one shot Wednesday in Ottawa’s 6-0 victory against the Hurricanes and was forced to leave the game due to a sore hip. Gerber came into the game in relief and stopped all 31 Carolina shots he faced.

* Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf has points in five of his last seven games, but has a minus-3 rating in that span.

* Tampa Bay is 3-11-1 away from the St. Pete Times Forum, but the Lightning managed to beat the Canadiens, 3-2, Tuesday at the Bell Centre.

* The Oilers are 4-10-1 in divisional play and have not won a divisional game since Nov. 20 when they beat the Vancouver Canucks, 5-4.

* Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff is the Oilers’ best statistical performer. He leads the team in goals (15), assists (18), points (33), plus-minus rating (plus-6) and power-play goals (4).

* Detroit’s 45-year-old defenseman, Chris Chelios, is not slowing down. He has not been a minus player in his last seven contests and continues to log important minutes on the Red Wings blue line.
* The Predators are in last place in the Central Division, but are only four points behind the St. Louis and Columbus, who are tied for second place in the division. The powerhouse Red Wings appear to be running away with the division yet again and hold an eight-point lead over the Blue Jackets and the Blues.

* Los Angeles forward Mike Cammalleri has seven points in his last five games and only failed to record a point in one game during that span.

* Vancouver forward Brendan Morrison’s iron man streak of 542 consecutive games played – the longest among current NHL players - ended Wednesday. Morrison will have surgery on his wrist later this month and will be out of the Canucks’ lineup indefinitely.

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