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NHL: 5 things to know for Friday night

11/28/2014 03:04 EST | Updated 01/28/2015 05:59 EST
The Montreal Canadiens are looking to get back on track in Buffalo, while the Vancouver Canucks put their two-game winning streak on the line against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here are five things you need to know for Friday night:

Montreal bounces in Buffalo

After being taken to school by the Rangers on Sunday where they lost 5-0, the Montreal Canadiens (16-6-1) are coming off a four-day break, hoping to kick things back into gear against the Buffalo Sabres (6-14-2). The Sabres are a team Montreal usually beats up on, winning the last six meetings and outscoring Buffalo 17-5. The Habs get two cracks at last-place Buffalo as tonight's game is the first in a home-and-home series that will finish up Saturday at the Bell Centre.

Montreal is dominating this season, winning eight of its last 10, and leading the Eastern Conference with 33 points. Then there's Buffalo; a team tied with Columbus with the lowest point total in the NHL at 14. However, the Sabres won three in a row before losing to the Jets on Wednesday.

Montreal's Max Pacioretty has been leading the offensive charge for the Habs this season with 10 goals and 18 points. He and fellow forwards David Desharnais and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau will be looking to improve on Sunday's performance where the trio were a combined minus-nine, only managing four shots.

The Habs have confirmed that Eric Tangradi will make his debut Friday after being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets. He played a career-high 55 games for the Jets last season.

Jets land in Boston

The Winnipeg Jets (12-9-3) are taking on the Boston Bruins (13-9-1) in what should be a very evenly matched contest. Both teams have 27 points and both are in fourth place in their respective divisions. Boston's home record is 8-5-1 while Winnipeg's road record is 8-4-2.  Winnipeg has won three of its last five and so have the Bruins.

The difference is the Jets have won their last two while the Bruins have lost their last two. But the Jets have lost the last 13 times they have visited Boston, so history is not on their side.

Winnipeg goalie Michael Hutchinson will get the start. Hutchinson was originally drafted by the Bruins and has been playing well lately. He posted a 1.07 GAA over a 4-0-1 stretch in November. He's played seven games this season total, earning a league-best 1.50 GAA letting in only eight goals.

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Islanders continue the conquest

The way the Islanders are playing this season you would swear Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin had been brought back for another Stanley Cup run. New York (16-6-0), on a five-game winning streak, has scored 72 goals to this point, behind only Tampa Bay (81) Pittsburgh (76) and Calgary (75). The Islanders are just behind red-hot Montreal with 32 points, good enough for third in the Eastern conference.

The Islanders won Wednesday's meeting 3-2 against the Washington Capitals (9-8-4) in overtime. John Tavares, who scored the winner, leads the team with 21 points.

The Islanders are expected to start Jaroslav Halak in net. The goalie has a 1.21 GAA over his last eight games. If he gets the nod it will be his first time playing back in Washington since he was traded by the Capitals.

Luck of the Irish for Vancouver

The luck of the late "big Irishman," Pat Quinn, has seemed rubbed off on the Vancouver Canucks (15-6-1), who continued the winning streak after an emotional tribute to the former player, coach and executive Tuesday night. The Canucks defeated New Jersey 2-0, winning for the second straight game. They are taking on the dismal Columbus Blue Jackets (6-13-2), who have lost four in a row, winning only two of their last 10 games.

The Canucks' Alexandre Burrows is hot, scoring three of his five goals this season in the last five games. 

The Canucks are also have one of the best road records in the league, going 8-3-0 as they begin a seven-game trip.

Penguins offence powers on

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will celebrate his 30th birthday by starting against the Carolina Hurricanes (6-12-3) at home. Pittsburgh (15-4-2) is No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings with 32 points. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continue to drive the Pens' offence.  

Crosby leads the team with 31 points, 22 of which are assists, as he continues to be a playmaker for the team. Malkin leads the team in goals with 11. Pittsburgh has won the last seven games Malkin has played in, and the team has combined for 25 goals during a five-game winning streak.

Carolina (6-12-3) has lost three straight and four of its last five.

Other Canadian teams in action included Ottawa against the Panthers in Florida, while the struggling Edmonton Oilers visit St. Louis.

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