Offensive fireworks in Washington
The Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning will have some of the top offensive players in the NHL on display when they meet Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Topping that list is Alex Ovechkin, who looks to continue his climb up the all-time NHL goals list. The Capitals captain scored two goals in a 5-1 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday to move past Marcel Dionne for fifth place all-time with 732, nine behind Brett Hull (741) in fourth place. And Ovechkin, who also had two assists Wednesday, has good history against the Lightning with 48 goals in 72 games, tied for the most he’s scored against any opponent (48 against the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers). But don’t forget the Lightning’s superstar scorers, including forward Steve Stamkos (two goals, three assists) and defenseman Victor Hedman (five assists), each of whom has scored five points and is tied for the NHL scoring lead with Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. Expect offense to take center stage Saturday; the teams have combined to score at least seven goals five times in their past six games. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor
Homecoming of sorts
I know it’s been five years since Marc-Andre Fleury called Pittsburgh home, but the Penguins always will be special to Fleury and his games there always will be special to Pittsburgh hockey fans. Fleury won the Stanley Cup three times with the Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017) and went from unassuming teenager with great potential as the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft to sharing championship core status with forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang. Fleury leads the Chicago Blackhawks into Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, ATTSN-PT, NBCSCH, NHL LIVE). Chicago seeks its first win of the season (0-1-1) and Fleury eyes his first win with the Blackhawks after being traded to Chicago by the Vegas Golden Knights on July 27. He’ll be facing a Penguins team that has earned three of four points in its first two games (1-0-1). Crosby might play his first game this season as he makes his way back from wrist surgery, but Malkin is out after having June knee surgery. This will be a night to turn back the clock and remember the good times when Fleury lit up the city with his smile and winning ways, delivering a cachet of memories that still are cherished by the Pittsburgh hockey faithful. — Shawn P. Roarke, Senior Director of Editorial
Boston shows what’s next
The Boston Bruins turn their clock forward when they open the 2021-22 season Saturday at home against the Dallas Stars (7 p.m. ET; NESN, BSSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). In net will be Jeremy Swayman, the 22-year-old goalie who was 7-3-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .945 save percentage playing his first 10 NHL games last season. And 23-year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy will play his first game since signing an eight-year, $76 million contract ($9.5 million average annual value) Friday. Gone are goalie Tuukka Rask and forward David Krejci, two of Boston’s longtime stalwarts. The Stars are coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Thursday, when defenseman Miro Heiskanen scored the winning goal. Like McAvoy, Heiskanen recently signed an eight-year contract ($67.6 million). Defenseman Ryan Suter will play his 1,200th NHL game and second with the Stars after signing a four-year contract July 28. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Arizona Coyotes at Buffalo Sabres (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, MSG-B, BSAZ, NHL LIVE)
The Sabres, who were last in the NHL in 2020-21, look to start this season 2-0-0 after a 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Buffalo will be without top center Casey Mittelstadt, who has an upper-body injury and will miss “at least a couple of weeks,” coach Don Granato said Friday. The Coyotes will try to bounce back from an 8-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
New York Islanders at Florida Panthers (6 p.m. ET; BSFL, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is one point from becoming the first Panthers player with 500 in the NHL (499 points; 168 goals, 331 assists). He’s scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 20 games against the Islanders. New York has won four straight games against Florida and is 5-1-3 in its past nine at BB&T Center, dating to Nov. 14, 2014.
Dallas Stars at Boston Bruins (7 p.m. ET; NESN, BSSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Jeremy Swayman will be the first Bruins goalie to start a season opener other than Rask since Tim Thomas in 2011-12. The Stars will try to start 2-0-0 for the second straight season. A victory also would give them consecutive road wins to start a season for the first time since 2010-11.
Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; CBC, SNO, SNW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Senators forward Brady Tkachuk could make his season debut two days after signing a seven-year, $57.5 million contract ($8.214 million average annual value). Since goalie Petr Mrazek is injured and due to NHL salary cap issues, Jack Campbell will start for the Maple Leafs and Alex Bishop will sign an amateur tryout contract and be the backup.
New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; CITY, SNE, TVAS, MSG, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Canadiens will try to avoid losing their first three games of the season for the first time since 1995-96; they scored two goals in consecutive losses to the Maple Leafs (2-1) and Sabres (5-1) on Wednesday and Thursday. The Rangers also are looking for their first win of the season after starting with consecutive losses (0-1-1) at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and in overtime against the Stars on Thursday. New York likely will be without center Ryan Strome, who is in COVID-19 protocol.
Vancouver Canucks at Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET; SNP, BSDET, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Goalie Jaroslav Halak, who signed a one-year contract July 28, is expected to make his Canucks debut after Thatcher Demko started their first two games. The Red Wings will be without forward Dylan Larkin, who will serve a one-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety for roughing against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Chicago Blackhawks at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, ATTSN-PT, NBCSCH, NHL LIVE)
Sidney Crosby could make his season debut after missing Pittsburgh’s first two games while recovering from September wrist surgery. Chicago forward Patrick Kane has scored 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) during an eight-game point streak against Pittsburgh.
Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Capitals have won four straight games against the Lightning. Tampa Bay is second in the NHL this season with nine goals, including four in 9:00 to turn a 6-3 third-period deficit into a 7-6 overtime win against Detroit on Thursday.
Seattle Kraken at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Kraken look to build on the first win in franchise history, 4-3 at the Nashville Predators on Thursday, as they continue their five-game road trip. The Blue Jackets are coming off an 8-2 win against the Coyotes on Thursday, the most goals they scored in a game since an 8-4 win against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 12, 2016.
Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The teams will play for the first time since the Hurricanes defeated the Predators in six games in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round last season. Forward Sebastian Aho led the Hurricanes in that series with seven points (five goals, two assists). He’s also scored 10 goals in 16 regular-season games against the Predators, tied for his most against any NHL team (also 10 against the Blue Jackets). Forward Mikael Granlund, who tied for the Predators lead against the Hurricanes in the playoffs last season with five points (two goals, three assists), scored three points (one goal, two assists) in a 4-3 loss to the Kraken on Thursday.
St. Louis Blues at Colorado Avalanche (9 p.m. ET; ALT, BSMW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon could play after missing Colorado’s 4-2 win against the Blackhawks on Wednesday while in NHL COVID-19 protocol. Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog will serve the first of a two-game suspension for boarding Chicago forward Kirby Dach. The Blues will play their first game since a four-game loss to the Avalanche in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round last season.
Winnipeg Jets at San Jose Sharks (10 p.m. ET; CITY, SNW, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Jets will look to rebound from a season-opening 4-1 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday; they’ve won four straight games at SAP Center, dating to Jan. 23, 2018. Forward William Eklund, the No. 7 pick of the 2021 NHL Draft, is expected to make his NHL debut for the Sharks.
Calgary Flames at Edmonton Oilers (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SNE, SNO, SNP, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is one goal from 200 in the NHL. If he scores Saturday it would come in his 480th game, tying him with Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning for the seventh fastest to 200 goals among active players. Goalie Jakob Markstrom could start his 300th NHL game for the Flames, who will play their first game of the season.
Minnesota Wild at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, BSN, BSWI, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Kings forward Anze Kopitar will try to build on his record-setting game, when he scored five points (three goals, two assists) in a 6-2 win against the Golden Knights on Thursday, the most by a Los Angeles player in a season opener. The Wild won their opener against the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on Friday, when Marcus Foligno scored the game-winning goal with eight seconds remaining in the third period.