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NHL: 4 things to watch on Friday

01/16/2015 12:26 EST | Updated 03/18/2015 05:59 EDT
It's Friday and if you're looking for some interesting angles to watch in the NHL tonight — here are four things to guide you:

Jets continue playoff push 

The Winnipeg Jets go after their third win in a row, facing a team they've had plenty of recent success against. The Jets are in Chicago to play the Blackhawks and have won three times at the United Center this season.

Winnipeg is coming off a 2-1 win over Dallas on Thursday, in which Ondrej Pavelac turned aside 46 shots. The Jets could go with backup goalie Michael Hutchinson on Friday. He recorded a shutout against Chicago earlier this season.

Jets forward Andrew Ladd has played well against his former club with two goals and four assists in his last four games against Chicago.

The Blackhawks haven't played since Monday and could take advantage of a road-weary Jets team.

Canucks need to take care of business

You have to beat the teams you're supposed to beat if you want to be in the playoffs. That's the case for the Vancouver Canucks on Friday, as they visit the Carolina Hurricanes. 

The Hurricanes are second last in the Eastern Conference, but they have won five of their past seven and appear to be sparked by the return of Jordan Staal. He has a goal and three assists since returning to the lineup on Dec. 29.

Vancouver looks like it may have snapped out of its goal-scoring funk with a 4-0 win in Philly on Thursday. Their power play converted twice after a 0-for-10 stretch. Look for Eddie Lack to get the start in goal for the Canucks and Cam Ward for the 'Canes.

Trotz returns to Nashville

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz will be in a familiar rink on Friday, but behind an unfamiliar bench. Trotz coached the Predators for 15 seasons and returns now as the coach of the opposing Capitals for the first time.

Trotz enjoyed plenty of success in Nashville —​ he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award twice (2010, 2011) and his 557 wins placed him 13th in all-time coaching wins. He should get a warm reception.

Trotz has the Caps on a roll right now. They have won three straight and have not lost in regulation in their past nine (7-0-2). The Preds are no slouch either, first in the NHL's overall standings, on a six-game home winning streak, and just two shy of the franchise record set from Jan. 6-Feb. 8, 2007.

Alex Ovechkin has six goals and three assists in his last eight games.

Islanders, Penguins battle for 1st

If you were looking at the calendar at the start of the season, you probably wouldn't have guessed that Friday's matchup between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins would be a battle for first place in the Eastern Conference. But the Islanders are proving they're a real contender this season.

The Penguins are 8-2-1 in the past 11 games against the Islanders, including four victories in the past five games at Nassau Coliseum, but the Islanders swept a home-and-home set earlier this season. The Islanders are 10-3-1 in their last 14 games and their 29 wins this season ties a franchise record for most wins in a season's first 43 games (29-5-9 in 1978-79).

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