Saturday’s games involving Canadian teams:
Rangers at Canadiens, 2 p.m. ET
Rangers—The Rangers (29-21-4) kick off a three-game road trip with an Original Six matchup. The team has been effective away from Madison Square Garden this season and is tied for the NHL lead with 17 road victories. No. 1 goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was pulled during a home loss to New Jersey on Thursday night and criticized by coach John Tortorella afterwards.
Canadiens—The Habs (29-18-5) have been a resilient bunch of late, erasing deficits in victories over Florida and Washington this week. Montreal is entering an important stretch with five of its next six games at the Bell Centre. After that, the team heads to Western Canada, where it will play outdoors at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium later in the month.
Maple Leafs at Sabres, 7 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs—Toronto (21-25-5) has won its last two games and is back down to two goaltenders after Jonas Gustavsson was sent to the AHL on a conditioning stint. Rookie James Reimer posted his first career NHL shutout against Carolina on Thursday and will get another start. It won’t be easy—the Maple Leafs have lost their last six regular-season games at Buffalo’s HSBC Arena.
Sabres—The big news in Buffalo this week was the sale of the team to billionaire Terry Pegula. Amazingly, the Sabres’ first game back from the all-star break came Friday night in Pittsburgh—a layoff of 10 days. As a result, Buffalo (23-21-5 going into Friday’s game against Pittsburgh) has games in hand against the teams it is trying to chase in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Senators at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
Senators—Ottawa (17-27-8) is ready to welcome back top forward Jason Spezza, who has been sidelined since Dec. 26 with a right shoulder injury. It’s been a rough go since Spezza went down—the Sens were 1-10-4 without him in the lineup. The game is the first of four in eight days on the road for Ottawa.
Islanders—The Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers (16-28-7) received more bad injury news Friday as goalie Rick DiPietro was ruled out for the next four to six weeks with facial fractures and knee swelling. That leaves 20-year-old Kevin Poulin as the team’s top goaltender. It’s been another tough year on Long Island.
Oilers at Blue Jackets, 7 p.m. ET
Oilers—Edmonton (15-27-8 going into Friday’s game against St. Louis) continues its road trip after paying a visit to St. Louis on Friday night. The Oilers fell back to 30th overall in the league this week when New Jersey passed them in the standings. Coach Tom Renney is accompanying the team on its three-game road swing despite the fact his father Joe died Tuesday night.
Blue Jackets—Columbus (23-22-5 going into Friday’s game against Detroit) will also be playing its second game in as many nights after visiting division-rival Detroit on Friday. Top prospect John Moore is expected to make his NHL debut against the Oilers. The defenceman was a first-round draft pick in 2009 and received the call-up because Rostislav Klesla continues to battle a lingering knee injury.
Kings at Flames, 10 p.m. ET
Kings—The latest stop in a 10-game road odyssey for the Kings (28-22-2), who have been displaced from Staples Center by the Grammys and NBA all-star game. Defenceman Drew Doughty is coming off the first two-goal game of his NHL career, but it took 12 hours for him to find out—goals originally credited to Ryan Smyth in Edmonton on Wednesday were later changed by the NHL. Los Angeles won’t play at home again until Feb. 24.
Flames—The Flames (26-21-6) are among the hottest teams in the league after reeling off six straight victories. That stretch has put them on the verge of cracking into the top eight in the Western Conference. Even the all-star break couldn’t cool red-hot Calgary, which won games in Nashville and Atlanta this week before returning home.