The Panthers look to get Pete DeBoer his first victory as an NHL coach, something the Thrashers got for John Anderson one night earlier with an impressive offensive effort, when these Southeast Division rivals meet Saturday night.
DeBoer's coaching debut started well, with Florida taking a 2-0 lead just over six minutes into Friday's game at Carolina with goals from David Booth and Cory Stillman. However, the Panthers blew that lead by the end of the first period and ended up losing 6-4 to the Hurricanes.
"It was perfect game plan to quiet the building," DeBoer said, "until they came back at us."
The bright spot for his club, though, was a strong game on offense for a team which traded scoring leader Olli Jokinen to Phoenix in the offseason. Florida, which was 20th in the league in goals last season, outshot Carolina 33-24 and went 2-for-6 on the power play.
"A lot of people are questioning our scoring without Olli here, but a lot of guys stepped up today," Booth said. "We keep scoring four goals. ... A lot of good things tonight."
Booth and newcomer Cory Stillman, signed via free agency during the offseason, each had a goal and an assist in the opener.
Six different players had goals on Friday for Atlanta, which put together the highest-scoring game of any team this season in a 7-4 victory over Washington.
It was a memorable debut for Anderson, who coached in the minors for 13 seasons and won five championships before finally landing an NHL job running a team.
Anderson is relying on plenty of newcomers as well as youngsters like 2006 first-round pick Bryan Little, who scored twice and netted the go-ahead goal in the third period.
"With so many new guys and so many different things we are doing out there, it's hard to change the things the guys are used to doing," Anderson said. "It's a work in progress, but the way we are scoring goals, that's what I've been trying to talk about all summer."
Defenseman Zach Bogosian, selected by Atlanta with the third overall pick in June, became the youngest player in Thrashers history to appear in a regular-season game at 18 years and 87 days of age. Ilya Kovalchuk was 18 years and 172 days old when he made his debut on Oct. 4, 2001.
Kovalchuk, second in the league last season with 52 goals and had a team-high 82 points, had one assist in the opener.
While Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen made 39 saves, Florida's Tomas Vokoun had just 18 in the opener.
The defense in front of Vokoun could be missing a key piece Saturday if Bryan McCabe is unable to play after leaving Friday's game with an apparent left leg injury.