A trip around the Metropolitan Division: Jan. 4

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Going into a busy Saturday night in the NHL, the only Metro division team that is idle on this day is Pittsburgh, and that's fine by them as they hold a 15-point edge on everyone else. The middle continues to stay packed, seventh place Columbus is only six points behind Washington for second place and the team with the longest winning streak may surprise you.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins (30-12-1)

Pittsburgh, who has faced injuries all year, continues to fight through them. They finished this week with a 2-1 -0 mark in a three-game set against division opponents.

The Penguins dropped the Blue Jackets on the road 5-3 before losing to the Devils in a 2-1 game.

Back in Pittsburgh on Friday night, the Penguins cruised to a 5-2 home win over the Rangers, fueled by three-point nights from Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby.

Jussi Jokinen also notched a pair of goals to help the Penguins over New York.

The Penguins hope to get a boost in their acquisition of a new forward in light of their rash of injuries as they claimed Taylor Pyatt off waivers from the Rangers.

The 32-year old forward missed eight games in November with a concussion and after returning, was a healthy scratch for 11 of New York's 15 games since Nov. 30.

Pyatt, who is donning the number 17 jersey in PIttsburgh, played against his old team Friday night right away, and had a slow night, playing 11:44 getting off two shots, taking a penalty and finishing as a -1.

Pyatt could help the Penguins in the playoffs, too. In his most recent playoff appearance with Phoenix, he scored four goals and picked up two assists as the Coyotes marched to the Western Conference finals.

Should he suit up for the Penguins' first playoff game, it would be his 70th career playoff game. In those games, he has 24 points.

Veteran US-born defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik will both be heading to Sochi to represent their country in the Olympics.

Both players are more than 30-years old and told Penguins.com that they will relish the opportunity as a new crop of young defensemen are growing up, it could be their last Olympic look.

The Penguins will get a healthy dose of Canada this week.

They start off by hosting the Jets for a Sunday matinee with a 1:00 p.m. puck drop.

After that, they embark on a three-game Western Conference road trip with contests in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.

All puck drops for the Western Conference road games are set for 10:00 p.m.

2. Washington Capitals (20-15-6)

Led by a red-hot Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals lost in overtime, a shootout and lost in regulation in three games this week.

Backstrom has 18 points in his past 11 games, but the week started off rough for Washington, as they dropped a six round shootout to the Sabres on the road.

In the final round, Buffalo's Steve Ott beat Philipp Grubauer for the lone goal of the mini game.

After suffering a 3-1 loss to the Senators the next day, the Capitals returned home to host Carolina who took advantage of a hat trick from Jeff Skinner to sink Washington in overtime.

The Capitals will travel to Minnesota for a Saturday night duel and then will not play until a back-to-back scenario against the Lightning and Maple Leafs on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Like Pittsburgh, the Capitals found out that one of their defensemen will represent team USA in the Olympics when it was announced that John Carlson will do so.

Carlson, 23, averages just south of 25 minutes of ice time per game and trails only Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfluglien in goals from defensemen in the past two seasons.

Carlson is a +26 in 274 career games for Washington.

3. Philadelphia Flyers (20-17-4)

The Flyers have completed four of five games on a Western Conference road trip and have a 3-1-0 to show for it.

After beating the Oilers 4-3, they picked up two wins in a back-to-back winning 4-3 over the Canucks and 4-1 over the Flames.

After a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche, they look to finish the trip strong in a Saturday night duel with the Coyotes.

The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last ten, and are benefiting from a hot Scott Hartnell who has a six-game point streak during which time he has scored two goals and collected five assists.

The Flyers will go into Saturday night's game knowing they will be without rookie forward Michael Raffl, who suffered a concussion on Thursday night.

In 10 games playing on the Flyers' top line alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the line has created 11 goals and generated 25 assists as Philadelphia lost only twice in regulation.

Along with Raffl, Erik Gustafsson is out with a knee injury and Matt Read is questionable.

4. New Jersey Devils (17-17-8)

The Devils fought hard and stayed with the league-leading Blackhawks on Friday night, losing 5-3.

Saturday night, the back end of the back-to-back pits them against the worst team in the league, the Buffalo Sabres.

After the trip to Buffalo, the Devils have a three-game homestand that pits them against the Flyers, Stars and Panthers.

The Devils could have gone two games over .500 with a win over Chicago- it would have been the first time they have done that this season.

After Martin Brodeur played in the loss to Chicago, Cory Schneider will start against the Sabres.

Adam Henrique has a four-game point streak, with five points over that stretch.

Ryan Carter played Friday night, marking his first appearance since Nov. 30 when he sustained a lower-body injury.

Patrik Elias, Anton Volchenkov, Damien Brunner, Peter Harrold and Adam Larsson are also injuured.

The Devils and Sabres will begin play at 7:00 p.m. Saturday.

5. New York Rangers (20-20-2)

New York had won three in a row but that streak was snapped at the hands of the Penguins on Friday as they defeated the Rangers 5-2.

Henrik Lundqvist gave up five goals on 28 shots. It marked the ninth time in his last 10 starts that he has given up three or more goals.

Three of his goals allowed came on Pittsburgh's first 10 shots of the game.

The Rangers will travel to Toronto for a Saturday night match in Toronto who is fresh off of their Winter Classic win in front of more than 100,000 fans.

New York center Derek Dorsett suffered a broken fibula Friday and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

6. Carolina Hurricanes (16-16-9)

Carolina had lost five-straight but they snapped that skid and have turned it around in dramatic fashion, defeating the Canadiens and Capitals in overtime this week.

In both of those two wins, Jeff Skinner has had three points. He has scored seven goals in his past five games.

Eric Staal has picked up his play of late, and had five points in the two wins this week.

The Hurricanes will take on the Islanders on the road in the front end of a back-to-back.

Returning to PNC Arena on Sunday, they will host the Predators.

The rest of the week features road matchups with the Sabres and Blue Jackets with a home game against the Maple Leafs in between.

Cam Ward will not play against the Islanders but could return on Sunday.

Riley Nash and Jiri Tlusty are both injured.

Another defenseman in the division will be going to Sochi, as Justin Faulk was named to the USA team.

The 21-year old Faulk has appeared in 40 games for Carolina this season, scoring 16 points and averaging well over 20 minutes of ice time per night.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets (18-19-4)

After a 5-3 home loss to the Penguins, the Blue Jackets began a four-game road trip that started with another loss as the Avalanche defeated them 5-3.

Thursday night, however, the Blue Jackets answered with a 2-0 win in Phoenix.

Foward Nathan Horton, who signed a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with Columbus, had missed the first 40 games of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

His presence was felt on Thursday as he scored the game winner on a wrist shot in the second period.

Curtis McElhinney stopped all 34 Coyotes shots, including 21 saves in the third period to earn his second shutout of the season.

Columbus wraps up their road trip with games against the Blues and Rangers before a back-to-back against the Hurricanes and Jets.

Marian Gaborik, Matt Calvert, Jared Boll and Oliver Gabriel are on injured reserve and Jack Skille is not expected to play due to injury against the Blues.

The Blue Jackets and Blues will drop the puck at 8:00 p.m. Saturday.

8. New York Islanders (14-21-7)

The Islanders carry a three-game winning streak into a Saturday matchup with the Hurricanes.

The streak, their longest of the season and longest in the division, has come against quality competition.

After knocking off the Wild and Bruins on the road, the Islanders defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime on home ice on Thursday.

Kyle Okposo scored his 16th of the season to win it in overtime for the Islanders.

Okposo, who is second on the team in scoring behind John Tavares, has 42 points in 42 games on the season, but was left off of team USA's Olympic roster.

After scoring the game winner on Thursday, the faithful at Nassau Coliseum began a "USA" chant.

Okposo said in an interview with NHL.com that it was a special moment and that he didn't prepare for the game any differently after learning he was left off of the roster.

The two point night from Okposo on Thursday extended his point streak to eight games- over which time he has six goals and seven assists.

That streak is the longest in the league currently and matches his career high.

Thomas Vanek, acquired in a trade with Buffalo in October, seems to be finding his stride. He has a seven-game point streak of his own, extended with a goal against the Blackhawks on Thursday.

Vanek said in an interview with NHL.com that the top line of himself, Taveres and Okposo is beginning to find it's stride, acknowledging that it takes time to reach that point.

After hosting the Hurricanes, the Islanders will host the Stars and then battle the Maple Leafs and Avalanche on the road.

Radek Martinek and Lubomir Visnovsky are injured and Josh Bailey has missed three-straight games with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Saturday.

Puck drop between the Islanders and Hurricanes is set for 7:00 p.m. Saturday.

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