Five games to watch in the NHL this week


New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins: Prized Pittsburgh rookie Evgeni Malkin was levelled by Isles blue-liner Brendan Witt in last Friday’s game. It was a clean check but Malkin was knocked woozy and left the game. Will there be payback? It’s going to be interesting to see if the Penguins stick up for their Russian star.

Anaheim Ducks at Edmonton Oilers: No need to sell this one, Chris Pronger returns to face the wrath of Edmonton fans after forcing a trade away from the Alberta capital last summer. He’ll get booed every time he touches the puck, and loudly. The unfortunate thing is that it overshadows the fact a splendid player, star defenceman Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks, will be playing in his 1,000 career NHL game. Maybe he’ll get a cheer or two from the Edmonton crowd – until he passes the puck to Pronger.

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New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres: New York is hungry to finally beat Buffalo after losing the first three encounters, although the last two were overtime thrillers. The Sabres are a frustrating team for the Rangers, who are top-heavy with scoring but not balanced throughout their lineup like Buffalo.


Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens: The game’s oldest rivalry has the added spice of both clubs battling for second in the Northeast Division. Montreal begins the week only one point behind Toronto with three games in hand. Both clubs are off to better-than-expected starts. The Leafs have won two of the three previous meetings this season.


New York Islanders at New York Rangers: When’s the last time these rivals played a game with first place on the line in the Atlantic Division? Both have excellent coaches in Ted Nolan and Tom Renney.