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Daily Primer Oct. 5: Saturday night [hockey] fever

Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 3:05 AM
John Kreiser  - NHL.com Columnist

The first Saturday night of the new season brings 11 games, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks playing their home openers.

It will be the first game behind the home bench at Rogers Arena for John Tortorella, whose Canucks were beaten 4-1 by the San Jose Sharks in their season-opener two nights earlier.

Both the Islanders and the Maple Leafs come home without a loss -- the Islanders won 4-3 in a shootout against the New Jersey Devils on Friday, while Toronto fans were ecstatic when their team started the season with road wins against the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.

Here's a quick look at the full slate of games Saturday:

Detroit Red Wings at Boston Bruins -- Neither team has lost, though the Red Wings come to TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) after escaping Raleigh with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday in a game they trailed 2-0 after two periods. Justin Abdelkader scored in the first minute of the third period, Henrik Zetterberg got the tying goal with 16.4 seconds left in regulation and newcomer Stephen Weiss put home the OT winner. The Bruins' penalty-killers put on a show in Boston's 3-1 opening-night win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, killing off all five power plays they faced and scoring two shorthanded goals.

Ottawa Senators at Toronto Maple Leafs -- How much did Ottawa miss Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Erik Karlsson last season? Karlsson came up with the big play Friday night by drifting into the offensive zone and rifling Clarke MacArthur's pass into the net with 1:35 left in regulation to break up a scoreless tie. The Maple Leafs have had two days off to savor their season-starting victories at Montreal and Philadelphia before this season's first edition of the Battle of Ontario. Defenseman Morgan Rielly, the fifth player taken in the 2012 NHL Draft, is likely to make his NHL debut for Toronto, which lost Mark Fraser with a knee injury. Coach Randy Carlyle isn't saying who'll start in goal, but James Reimer is 8-1-1 lifetime against Ottawa.

Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Islanders -- The Nassau Coliseum figures to be rocking for the home opener after New York went to Prudential Center and beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in a shootout Friday. Aside from Matt Moulson's winner in the tiebreaker, none of the Islanders' offense came from the top line centered by John Tavares; Michael Grabner scored twice and set up Frans Nielsen for their other goal. The Blue Jackets had a nightmarish home opener, losing 4-3 in regulation to the Calgary Flames as Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky allowed a pair of third-period goals.

Philadelphia Flyers at Montreal Canadiens -- Two teams that started their season by losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs get together at Bell Centre in search of their first victory of the season. The Flyers had 32 shots and scored the game's first goal but managed nothing in the final two-plus periods. They'll be facing former teammate Danny Briere, who was bought out during the summer after six seasons in Philadelphia and quickly found a new home in Montreal. The Canadiens have had three days to get past their season-opening 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs. Enforcer George Parros won't play, but he was able to visit with teammates Friday, three days after he suffered a concussion. Ryan White or rookie Michael Bournival will take his place in the lineup.

Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins -- Ryan Miller has given the Sabres a chance to win both of their first two games by stopping 77 of 80 shots, but a lack of offense has produced 2-1 and 1-0 losses. Miller made 45 saves against the Ottawa Senators on Friday, but the Sabres couldn't get anything past Craig Anderson. Not that they didn't try -- Thomas Vanek had several glorious chances among his nine shots on goal. The Penguins will be missing All-Star forward James Neal, who left Thursday's season-opener against the New Jersey Devils in the first period with an upper-body injury that coach Dan Bylsma says is more week-to-week than day-to-day. The good news from the 3-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils was that Marc-Andre Fleury was flawless in stopping 27 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawks -- This is about as tough a first two games as any team has ever had -- the Lightning opened their season with a 3-1 road loss to the Eastern Conference-champion Boston Bruins and flew right to Chicago for a meeting with the defending Stanley Cup champs. The Lightning did a lot of good things in Boston, but their power play has to be better than 0-for-5 with two shorthanded goals against. Maybe it will perk up against the Blackhawks, who surrendered three man-advantage goals to the Washington Capitals in their opener and had to rally for a 6-4 victory.

Florida Panthers at St. Louis Blues -- General manager Dale Tallon's decision to bring in some veterans worked well on opening night; the Panthers started their season with a 4-2 road victory against the Dallas Stars as Tim Thomas stopped 25 shots and newcomer Scott Gomez scored a goal. So did first-round draft pick Aleksander Barkov; he became the youngest NHL player since Don Raleigh in 1943 to score. The Blues are home again after beating the Nashville Predators 4-2 in their season-opener Thursday. Brett Hull dropped puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff, and the Blues then dropped the Predators by scoring three times before the game was 10 minutes old.

Washington Capitals at Dallas Stars -- Washington's power play is red hot. The Capitals have had nine chances in their first two games and turned five of them into goals. Now all the Capitals have to do is find a way to stop the other guys; they surrendered six goals to Chicago on opening night and had to dig out of 3-0 and 4-1 holes to beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 in shootout in their home opener. Dallas looked sharp in its new "victory green" uniform for about 50 minutes in their season-opener, then allowed the Florida Panthers to score three times and leave American Airlines Center with a 4-2 win. The Stars won't last long against the Capitals if they allow 39 shots, as they did against the Panthers.

Anaheim Ducks at Minnesota Wild -- Teams that are going to sit a player in half of a back-to-back usually dress him for the first game. But the Ducks have opted to let 43-year-old Teemu Selanne take the night off at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday. The reason: They go to Winnipeg on Sunday, and Selanne started his career there in 1992. Selanne was one of Anaheim's better players in their season-opener on Wednesday, but that wasn't saying much; the Ducks lost 6-1 in Denver to the Colorado Avalanche. The Wild couldn't hold a 2-1 third-period lead to the Los Angeles Kings and lost 3-2 in a shootout.

Edmonton Oilers at Vancouver Canucks -- One of these two winless teams will leave Rogers Arena with two points. The Oilers had three days to think about the 4-2 lead against the Winnipeg Jets that turned into a 5-4 loss on opening night at home. They also got the surprising news that center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be back on Monday, a month earlier than expected following shoulder surgery in April -- that could let coach Dallas Eakins send Taylor Hall back to left wing. The Canucks led 1-0 after one period in John Tortorella's coaching debut, but the San Jose Sharks ran off four unanswered goals for a 4-1 win at the Shark Tank. Tortorella's influence did show up in one stat: The Canucks blocked 22 shots, double their average from last season.

Phoenix Coyotes at San Jose Sharks -- The Coyotes got the first payback from their six-year investment in goaltender Mike Smith when he made a handful of highlight-reel stops during a 23-save performance in Phoenix's 4-1 season-opening victory against the New York Rangers in Glendale on Thursday. Radim Vrbata will have a hard time matching his opening-night performance: He scored the game's final three goals for a natural hat trick. The Sharks started slowly before beating the Canucks in their opener. One area coach in which Todd McLellan wants improvement is the power play, which went 0-for-7 on Thursday.

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