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Weekly Primer

Crosby passing Lemieux, Hockey Day in Canada highlight week ahead

Rangers honoring 1994 Stanley Cup team among 5 things to watch

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Sidney Crosby passing Mario Lemieux for the most regular-season games played in Pittsburgh Penguins history and the New York Rangers celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 Stanley Cup-winning team are among the highlights of the week ahead.

Here's a look at 5 things to watch:


1. Move over, Mario

Sidney Crosby is expected to play his 916th NHL game and pass Mario Lemieux to become the all-time leader in regular-season games played for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SUN, ATTSN-PT; NHL.TV).

Crosby has 1,177 points (434 goals, 743 assists) in 14 NHL seasons, all second in Penguins history behind Lemieux (1,723 points; 690 goals, 1,033 assists). His 61 points (23 goals, 38 assists) lead Pittsburgh (28-18-6), which is third in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the first-place New York Islanders.

Video: PIT@TOR: Crosby blasts one-timer for PPG


2. Hockey Day in Canada

All seven NHL teams from Canada will play Saturday as part of the 19th annual Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada, when Sportsnet will host a live national broadcast from Riverdene Park in Swift Current, Saskatchewan: 

• Winnipeg Jets at Ottawa Senators (2 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, SN1, TVAS, NHL.TV)

• San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers (7 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)

• Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SN1, TVAS, NHL.TV)

• Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, SN360, SN1, CITY, NHL.TV)


3. Kovalchuk back in New Jersey

Ilya Kovalchuk will play at Prudential Center for the first time since returning to the NHL when the Los Angeles Kings face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG+, FS-W, NHL.TV).

Kovalchuk played four seasons in New Jersey after he was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers on Feb. 4, 2010. He had 201 points (89 goals, 112 assists) in 222 games for the Devils and helped them advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. He signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract with the Kings on July 1 after playing five seasons with St. Petersburg SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League. 

Kovalchuk has 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 41 games for the Kings (20-27-4), who are last in the Western Conference with 44 points. 

Video: LAK@NYI: Kovalchuk deflects puck in with skate


4. Celebrating '94

The New York Rangers will commemorate the 25th anniversary of their 1994 Stanley Cup championship team with a ceremony before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, MSG+, FS-CR, NHL.TV).

Every member from the Rangers' seven-game win against the Canucks in the 1994 Final is scheduled to attend except former defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev, who was an assistant coach for Lokomotiv of the KHL before he and nearly the entire team died in a plane crash Sept. 7, 2011.


5. Milestone watch

* Alex Ovechkin is three goals from becoming the fourth player in NHL history with at least 10 40-goal seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky (12), Marcel Dionne (10) and Lemieux (10). The Washington Capitals are home against the Canucks on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, NBCSWA, NHL.TV), the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Ovechkin is also one point from passing Sergei Fedorov (1,179) for the most in NHL history by a Russia-born player.

* Patrice Bergeron is scheduled to play his 1,000th NHL game when the Boston Bruins face the Islanders at TD Garden on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NESN, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV).

* Kris Letang needs one goal to pass Paul Coffey's Penguins record for goals by a defenseman (108). Pittsburgh hosts the Hurricanes on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, FS-CR, NHL.TV) and visits the Panthers on Thursday and Lightning on Saturday.

Letang is already the Penguins leader in games played (732), goals, assists (373) and points (481) by a defenseman in the regular season. 

* Matt Cullen will become the 20th player in NHL history to skate in 1,500 games when the Penguins play the Lightning. The 42-year-old forward is the oldest active player in the NHL.

Joe Thornton was the last to reach the milestone when he skated for the Sharks at the Dallas Stars on Nov. 8.

* Paul Maurice is expected to work his 1,500th regular-season game as an NHL coach when the Jets play the Sharks at Bell MTS place on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, NBCSCA, NHL.TV).

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