The Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes sit atop the Metropolitan Division with 70 points each, and they will meet Sunday for the first time this season when the Hurricanes visit Pittsburgh.
It should be noted that the Hurricanes have three games in hand on the Penguins, who have won fourof their past five games.
Still, it's a divisional game with some meat to it.
For Pittsburgh, it's a chance to take over the points lead in the Metro and to prove that a 4-1 loss Thursday at Toronto -- another team with a good record -- was an aberration.
"These teams are quality opponents, and we've got to be at our best. We weren't (Thursday)," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "We've got an opportunity on Sunday to hit the reset button and go back to playing the hockey we know we're capable of."
The loss against the Maple Leafs, which followed a four-game winning streak, might have carried a bit of an emotional hangover for Pittsburgh, whose previous game featured a huge celebration of team captain Sidney Crosby's 500th career goal.
Four of the Penguins' next six games are against Carolina (twice), fellow Metro contender New York Rangers and Eastern Conference contender Tampa Bay.
"We're playing some really good teams here, some divisional games, a lot on the line," Crosby said. "By no means are we even close to being where we need to be or being able to coast. You find out pretty quickly if you don't show up what kind of night it can be -- and (Thursday was) a good example of that.
"You've got to be prepared to show up every night and understand that these are big points here down the stretch."
Carolina is coming off a 5-3 win Friday at home against Nashville but had lost four of five (1-2-2) before that.
Crosby insists the Hurricanes remain dangerous.
"They're fast," Crosby said. "Really work together well, all five guys out there on the ice, very similar to Toronto as far as the pace they play at and having their (defense) join (the offensive push), that sort of thing. They've got a lot of depth, too, so I think understanding that and knowing we're going to play teams like that here a good chunk of the time down the stretch, we've got to make sure that we're elevating our game, too."
The Hurricanes nearly blew a three-goal lead in the third period against Nashville.
"This group never gives up," said the Canes' Andrei Svechnikov, who had two power-play goals and an assist against the Predators and has 13 goals, 25 points since Jan. 1
The Hurricanes can also thank Brady Skjei, who had a goal and an assist Friday and has 15 points in the past 20 games.
"He's been good all year. It's nice for him and for us to see him score, but it's not surprising," Carolina coach Rod Brind'Amour said of Skjei.
Hurricanes winger Vincent Trocheck left in the first period of Friday's game because of an upper-body injury, and the team was awaiting word on his status.
--Field Level Media