NHL On Tap: Thornton, Reinhart to debut for Panthers against Penguins


Welcome to the NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the nine games on Thursday.


New-look Panthers open against Penguins

Forwards Joe Thornton and Sam Reinhart will each make his regular-season debut for the Florida Panthers, who many experts are picking to enjoy a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; SN360, BSFL, ATTSN-PT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Penguins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on Tuesday without injured forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. Twelve Penguins scored points in the win, so expect the Panthers to be wary of what was supposed to be a shorthanded Pittsburgh team. — Mike Zeisberger, staff writer


Lee returns for Islanders

Anders Lee will play for the first time since March 11 when the New York Islanders visit the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in the opener for each team (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSSO, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). The Islanders captain scored four points (three goals, one assist) in two preseason games after missing the final two months of last season and the entire postseason because of a knee injury. New York enters this season with high expectations after it lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third round of the playoffs for a second straight year. The Hurricanes enter with a new look in goal following the departures of Petr Mrazek (Toronto Maple Leafs), Alex Nedeljkovic (Detroit Red Wings) and James Reimer (San Jose Sharks). Frederik Andersen arrives from the Maple Leafs and will start for the Hurricanes. Antti Raanta, who played the past four seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, is Andersen’s backup. — Brian Compton, deputy managing editor


Blue Jackets, Coyotes open new eras

The Columbus Blue Jackets host the Arizona Coyotes at Nationwide Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) in the season opener for each team following an offseason of change. Columbus traded defenseman Seth Jones (Chicago Blackhawks) and Cam Atkinson (Philadelphia Flyers) and acquired defenseman Adam Boqvist and forward Jakub Voracek in trades with Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively. Brad Larsen debuts as Blue Jackets coach after being promoted to replace John Tortorella. Arizona traded defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Vancouver Canucks), forward Conor Garland (Vancouver) and goalie Darcy Kuemper (Colorado Avalanche) and acquired defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere (from Philadelphia) and Anton Stralman (from the Florida Panthers). Andre Tourigny takes over as Coyotes coach, replacing Rick Tocchet. — Tom Gulitti, staff writer


Thursday schedule

Montreal Canadiens at Buffalo Sabres (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, TSN2, RDS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Canadiens will try to rebound after opening the season with a 2-1 loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Montreal forward Jonathan Drouin scored in his first game since taking leave April 28 because of insomnia brought on by anxiety. Sabres coach Don Granato said he expects Drake Caggiula to be in the lineup. The forward skated with Buffalo on Wednesday, one day after leaving practice early following a collision along the boards.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, TSN4, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Goalie Petr Mrazek could make his Maple Leafs debut after Toronto opened its season with a 2-1 win against the Canadiens on Wednesday. Mrazek signed a three-year, $11.4 million contract with the Maple Leafs on July 28. It’s the season opener for the Senators, who are expecting a capacity crowd.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers (7 p.m. ET; SN360, BSFL, ATTSN-PT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Penguins go for their second straight win to start the season following a 6-2 victory at the Lightning on Tuesday. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will start for the Panthers in their season opener. 

Dallas Stars at New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; MSG, BSSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Rangers play for the second time in as many nights following a season-opening 5-1 loss at the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. The Stars are hoping forward Alexander Radulov will be healthy enough to play in their season opener after he was held out of practice Wednesday because of a non-COVID illness.

New York Islanders at Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSSO, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LJVE)

Frederik Andersen will make his Hurricanes debut after the goalie signed as a free agent. It’s the first of 13 straight road games to start the season for the Islanders, who will move into UBS Arena in Elmont, New York, next month.

Arizona Coyotes at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Andre Tourigny debuts as Coyotes coach after three seasons in the same capacity with Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League. Brad Larsen does the same for Columbus, replacing John Tortorella. He was an assistant the previous seven seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings (7:30 p.m. ET; BSDET, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Lightning aim to rebound following a 6-2 loss at home to the Penguins in their season opener. The Red Wings start their season with a four-game homestand.

Seattle Kraken at Nashville Predators (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, BSSO, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

The Kraken rallied from down 3-0 in their first NHL game but fell short in a 4-3 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday. The Predators open their season after signing defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million contract Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights at Los Angeles Kings (10:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSW, ATTSN-RM, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)

Vegas aims to build on its season-opening 4-3 win against Seattle on Tuesday, when forward Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist, and forward Mark Stone had three assists. Forward Phillip Danault is expected to make his Kings debut after signing a six-year, $33 million contract July 28.

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