Release the Kraken, and the rivalry
The expansion Seattle Kraken play their first home game at Climate Pledge Arena, hosting the Vancouver Canucks (10 p.m. ET: ESPN+, HULU, CBC, CITY, TVAS2, NHL LIVE), launching the NHL in the Pacific Northwest. It will be Seattle’s first rivalry game against Vancouver, its closest Pacific Division competitor, separated by about 140 miles. The Kraken (1-3-1) look to rebound from back-to-back losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils on Monday and Tuesday. The Canucks (2-2-1) come in after a 4-1 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. — William Douglas, staff writer
Cup Final preview?
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche are viewed as two of the most talented teams in the NHL. And despite each team struggling early, it’s not a stretch to believe their game Saturday at Amalie Arena in Tampa (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, ALT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning (2-2-0) have allowed an average of 4.25 goals per game and are still working on chemistry in their bottom six forward group, but the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion’s top six remains among the most formidable in the NHL even without Nikita Kucherov, who is out with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche (1-3-0) have lost three straight and are also allowing 4.25 goals per game, tied with the Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights for second worst in the NHL. Their top line is impressive, though still feeling its way after Nathan MacKinnon (NHL COVID-19 protocol) and Gabriel Landeskog (suspension) each missed two of the first four games. — Adam Kimelman, deputy managing editor
Panthers on a roll
The Florida Panthers might be the best team in the NHL right now. They’re 4-0-0 for the first time, coming off a 4-1 win against the Avalanche on Thursday. The win also was the 300th in the NHL for goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, making him the third Russia-born goalie to reach that milestone, following Evgeni Nabokov (353) and Nikolai Khabibulin (333). He could get No. 301 when the Panthers visit the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE), but it won’t be easy. The Flyers (2-0-1) have won their past two games, including an impressive 6-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. The Panthers have aced their early season tests, and this will be another difficult challenge. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators (1 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS, MSG, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Rangers look to sweep their four-game road trip. Goalie Igor Shesterkin has allowed three goals on 102 shots in wins against the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens. The Senators have alternated wins and losses through their first four games; they lost 2-1 at home to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday in forward Brady Tkachuk‘s first game of the season.
Calgary Flames at Washington Capitals (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSWA, SNW, NHL LIVE)
Flames forward Elias Lindholm looks to extend a three-game goal streak, one shy of his longest in the NHL (Dec. 2-8, 2018). Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has scored eight points (four goals, four assists) during his season-opening four-game point streak. It’s his longest run to start a season since he had points in the first six games of the 2015-16 season.
Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild (6 p.m. ET; BSN, BSWI+, BSSC, BSSD, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Wild try to remain unbeaten (3-0-0) while the Ducks look to rebound from a 5-1 loss at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday. Anaheim defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk has scored six points (three goals, three assists) during a five-game point streak, his longest since he had points in five straight from March 29-April 7, 2016.
Nashville Predators at Winnipeg Jets (7 p.m. ET; SN360, CITY, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Predators play the first of back-to-back road games after winning just once on a season-opening four-game homestand (1-3-0). The Jets (1-2-1) got their first win of the season, 5-1 against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday, but could be undermanned for the second straight game with forward Mark Scheifele and captain Blake Wheeler in NHL COVID-19 protocol.
Detroit Red Wings at Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; CITY, TVAS, BSDET, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
This features a role reversal from last season. The Canadiens, who lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Stanley Cup Final, are 0-5-0 and have scored four goals in five games. The Red Wings, who were tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fourth-fewest points (48) in the NHL last season, are 2-1-1 and will play their first road game of the season.
Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET; BSSUN, ALT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen has a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists). Forward Steven Stamkos has energized the Lightning offense with seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games, and Victor Hedman is tied for second among NHL defensemen with six points (six assists).
Buffalo Sabres at New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG-B, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Sabres are playing the second game of a back-to-back after their 4-1 loss at home to the Boston Bruins on Friday. It was their first loss of the season after winning three straight. Devils defenseman Ty Smith will make his season debut after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
Florida Panthers at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle plays against the Panthers for the first time since they bought out the final two seasons of his seven-year contract July 15. In 371 games during five seasons with Florida, Yandle scored 231 points (30 goals, 201 assists), third all-time among Panthers defenseman behind Robert Svehla (290 points) and Aaron Ekblad (238). In three games with the Flyers, Yandle has five assists.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, ATTSN-PT, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Goalie Tristan Jarry is expected to start for the Penguins after going into NHL COVID-19 protocol Thursday. But the shorthanded Penguins will be without center Jeff Carter, who remains in protocol, and center Sidney Crosby, who will miss his fifth straight game following Sept. 8 wrist surgery. The Maple Leafs are playing the second game of a back-to-back after their 5-3 loss at home to the San Jose Sharks on Friday.
Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Hurricanes look to start the season 4-0-0, and forward Andrei Svechnikov will try to extend his goal streak to four games. The expectation was Carolina would be a top team, but Columbus starting the season 3-1-0 is a surprise. Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand leads the Blue Jackets with seven points (two goals, five assists) in four games.
Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; BSMW, BSW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
St. Louis will try to start the season 4-0-0 for the first time since 2017-18. Goalie Jordan Binnington has been a big reason for the Blues’ early success, with a .921 save percentage in three games. The Kings are playing the second half of a back-to-back after a 3-2 overtime loss at the Dallas Stars on Friday. Defenseman Drew Doughty had to be helped off the ice during the game and his status is uncertain.
New York Islanders at Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m. ET; BSAZ+, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Coyotes have scored two goals or fewer in three of their first four games and are looking for their first win (0-3-1). The Islanders, who are 1-2-1 to start a season-opening 13-game road stretch, have allowed 3.75 goals and 35.5 shots on goal per game, a big change from last season, when they allowed 2.23 goals and 28.4 shots on goal per game.
Vancouver Canucks at Seattle Kraken (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, HULU, CBC, CITY, TVAS2, NHL LIVE)
The Kraken will look to rediscover their offense for their first game at Climate Pledge Arena; after scoring seven goals in their first two games, they have scored four in their past three. Canucks forwards Tanner Pearson and Brock Boeser will look for more production after each scored his first goal of the season in a 4-1 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.