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Hot and Not: Phil Kessel is coming on, but Artemi Panarin is cooling off

There are only two weeks remaining in the 2015-16 regular season and the playoff race has been nothing less than spectacular at this point of the schedule.

While top players across the league continue to roll, those who were expected to perform are finally starting to shine at the most opportune time for their respective teams.

Here’s this week’s look at players trending up and down across the league:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

A step up

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins: Many wondered if he would contribute in a big way during his first season in Pittsburgh, and even though it didn’t look good for the majority of the season, Kessel appears to have turned a corner of late. He has seven points in the past two games, with two goals and five assists. The veteran forward has been playing well as the Penguins moved to within three points of the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division. It’ll be interesting to see if Kessel can keep up this pace for the remaining seven games of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: It’s no mistake that one of the best players in the world is playing pretty close to his best when his team needs him most. The captain scored the game-winning goal during Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Rangers, and No. 87 now has at least one point in 14 of his past 15 games. He has seven goals and 15 assists in that span. Overall, he has 32 goals and 46 assists (78 points) in 74 games this season.

Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers: The Panthers reclaimed the top spot in the Atlantic Division last week, and the veteran forward has provided four goals and four assists in the past five games. The line of Jokinen, Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck has been solid for Florida.

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers: It was a big week for the Rangers, and Zuccarello has provided a couple of key performances, posting two goals and two assists in the past four games. However, he was a minus-2 during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Penguins.

A step back

Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins: As well as the Penguins have been playing of late, Hornqvist has gone seven games without a goal and has only two assists in that span.

Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators: Has only four assists in his past 10 games and hasn’t scored a goal since March 5 as the Senators’ playoff hopes dwindle.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

A step up

Andrew Ladd, Chicago Blackhawks: The veteran forward provided the game-winning goal during Sunday’s 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks as Chicago clinched its eighth consecutive postseason berth. It was his third goal in the past two games, and he now has six goals and three assists in 13 games since returning to the Blackhawks via trade with the Jets on Feb. 25. Overall, he has 23 goals and 20 assists in 72 games this season.

Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild: The goaltender posted his 19th career shutout and fifth of this season in a 4-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. He’s 6-0-1 in his past seven games, including a five-game winning streak, as Minnesota continues to own the second wild-card spot in the West.

Brian Elliott and Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues: Speaking of goaltending, this tandem combined for four consecutive shutouts last week. Elliott earned three straight, while Allen continued the streak with a 32-save performance during Saturday’s 4-0 win over the Washington Capitals. It was Allen’s sixth shutout of the season and 11th of his career. It was also the Blues’ 10th win in their past 12 games.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild: After a massive goal-scoring drought, the veteran forward produced six points in the past two games. He provided his fifth career hat trick, along with an assist, for a four-point game in Thursday’s 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames and followed that with two goals during Saturday’s 4-0 victory over the Avalanche.

James Neal, Nashville Predators: The veteran forward had a goal and assist to help the Predators extend their streak of consecutive home games with at least one point to 10 in a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Neal reached the 30-goal plateau for the second time in his career.

A step back

Artemi Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks: The 24-year-old rookie is the top contender to win the Calder Trophy with 25 goals and 39 assists in 74 games. However, he’s hit a bit of a skid of late and hasn’t recorded a goal in the past eight games, his second-longest drought of the season. He went 11 games from Oct. 10 to Nov. 4 without a goal. Panarin also has only two assists in his past five games.

Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks: A goal during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks was the veteran forward’s first in 10 games. Burrows missed the first game of the team's current eight-game losing skid and has just one goal and one assist in the other seven.