The Chicago Blackhawks' defense of the Stanley Cup they won in June is off to a bit of a bumpy start. After beating the Washington Capitals 6-4 on opening night, they blew a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and lost their first road game to the St. Louis Blues on a last-minute goal by Alexander Steen.
The Blackhawks hope a back-to-back set at home this weekend will help set them right, beginning with a Friday night visit from the New York Islanders (8 p.m. ET; NHLN-US).
Here's a quick look at all of Friday's action:
Phoenix Coyotes at Philadelphia Flyers -- A shakeup appears to have helped both teams. Phoenix had a players-only meeting and made some lineup changes after a 6-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday; the result was a 4-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday in the third game of a five-game trip. The Flyers changed coaches after losing their first three games and beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 Tuesday night in their first game under Craig Berube.
Los Angeles Kings at Carolina Hurricanes -- The Kings come east after splitting their first two home games, a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers and a 4-3 overtime victory against the Ottawa Senators in a game that saw them blow a 3-0 lead. Jeff Carter had two goals against Ottawa, including the OT winner, and has scored four times in four games. Carolina is home after rallying from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Thursday night. The Hurricanes are 2-1-1; Anton Khudobin has both victories, allowing three goals in the two games.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Florida Panthers -- The Panthers might not have picked the Penguins as the ideal opponent for their home opener: Pittsburgh is 3-0-0 and has won each of its games by three goals. The Penguins have back-to-back games -- they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday -- and could use rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff against the struggling Panthers. Florida comes to BB&T Center for its home opener after being routed 7-2 at Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Panthers are likely to be without goaltender Tim Thomas, who hasn't played since leaving a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night in the first period with a lower-body injury.
New York Islanders at Chicago Blackhawks -- This weekend should be a good measuring stick for the Islanders, who are off to a 2-0-1 start but visit the defending Stanley Cup champs on Friday and go right to Nashville for a game on Saturday. John Tavares is off to a good start (two goals, four points in three games), but New York's leading scorer is speedy Michael Grabner, who has two goals and six points. With the Buffalo Sabres coming to United Center on Saturday, the Blackhawks are expected to give Nikolai Khabibulin his first start of the season against New York. It will be his first in a Chicago uniform since the 2009 Western Conference Final.
Dallas Stars at Winnipeg Jets -- The Stars have had a six-day layoff to get ready for their first road trip of the season. They've been off since beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Saturday. Rookie Alex Chiasson has goals in both of the Stars' games and has scored eight times in his first nine NHL games. The Jets are back home after a disappointing 2-1 road loss to the Minnesota Wild, a game in which they were outshot 30-15 and won only 18 of 63 faceoffs. That dropped the Jets to last in the League in the circle; they've won just 37.6 percent of their draws, meaning that they're spending a lot of time chasing the puck.
New Jersey Devils at Calgary Flames -- One team hasn't won a game; the other hasn't lost in regulation -- and the Flames would like to keep both streaks alive. Calgary is a surprising 2-0-2 after holding off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Wednesday. Rookie Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist in that game and is showing why the Flames made him the sixth pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Devils are 0-1-3 and have blown multiple-goal leads in their past two games -- they led 3-0 before losing 5-4 to the Edmonton Oilers in a shootout and couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. This is the longest New Jersey has gone without winning a game since dropping its first four in 2001-02 -- but back then, they followed that slow start by winning six in a row.
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