SPORTS

NHL: 3 things to know for Wednesday night

02/25/2015 01:05 EST | Updated 04/27/2015 05:59 EDT
Wednesday is an important day for two Canadian squads in separate playoff pursuits. The winless-in-three Calgary Flames try to regain a wild-card spot in New Jersey, while Ottawa visits Anaheim looking for a third straight win.

Here are three things you need to know:

Flames feeling heat

The Calgary Flames are staring at a three-game losing skid and looking up at Los Angeles as they prepare to face the unbeaten-in-four New Jersey Devils. An eighth straight win by the Kings on Tuesday moved the defending Stanley Cup champions a point ahead of the Flames in the Pacific Division, while Minnesota has also passed Calgary by a point in the Western Conference wild-card race.

The Flames’ seven-game road trip didn’t start well with a 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday and they might be in tough to find the net against Devils goalie Cory Schneider, who will make his 52nd start of the season and is fresh off a 38-save shutout of Arizona. To boot, New Jersey is 11-2-3 in its past 16 games at Prudential Center.

Calgary left-winger Johnny Gaudreau, who is second to Nashville’s Filip Forsberg in the NHL rookie scoring race, might have some added motivation Wednesday in New Jersey, where he played high school hockey.

Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em matchup

Expect an emotional and intense fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Pittsburgh Penguins and hometown Washington Capitals. It was only eight days ago when Capitals star winger and NHL goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin slashed Penguins defenceman Kris Letang’s lower leg in a 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh, but these teams have been at each other all season.

Washington can sweep the season series for the first time since the 2009-10 season and, more importantly, overtake the Penguins for third spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals have outscored them 10-1 in three games, even though they have never allowed fewer than four goals in a season series with the Penguins.

Should Washington goalie Braden Holtby shut out Sidney Crosby and company Wednesday, he would tie Rogie Vachon of the 1974-75 Los Angeles Kings as the only netminders to blank Pittsburgh three times in a season.

Ryan back in Anaheim

Perhaps a return to his old stomping grounds will be added motivation for Bobby Ryan and his Ottawa Senators teammates as they begin a five-game Western Conference road trip in Anaheim. Ryan, whom the Ducks drafted second overall in 2005, played six seasons with the team and will return to Anaheim later to marry his fiancée, Danielle.

First, he would like to lead the Senators to a third straight victory as they try to move closer to playoff position. Ottawa is nine points back of Boston, which holds down the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, and will use one of its three games in hand on the Bruins.

The Senators, though, won’t have defenceman Jared Cowen in the lineup against the Ducks after the NHL handed him a three-game suspension for interference against Florida’s Jussi Jokinen on Saturday. It appeared Cowen caught Jokinen late and made contact with his head.

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