Saturday will represent a homecoming of sorts for Alex Kovalev. The former Montreal star returns to the Bell Centre for the first time with his new team, the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET, CBC). Kovalev signed with Ottawa during the summer after he was one of 11 free agents allowed to leave by GM Bob Gainey following his four-plus seasons in Montreal.
Kovalev's new team is off to a 4-2-0 start, including a 7-1 blowout win over Tampa Bay on Thursday. His old team isn't faring nearly as well -- Montreal is 2-4-0 and has dropped four in a row.
Two Original Six teams headed in opposite directions meet for the second time this week when the New York Rangers visit Toronto (7 p.m., CBC, NHL Network). The Leafs are still looking for their first win after going 0-5-1 in their first six -- including a 7-2 loss at Madison Square Garden on Monday. The Rangers have won six in a row after an opening-night loss to Pittsburgh.
Also at 7, the Carolina Hurricanes pay their first visit to New Jersey since last spring's playoffs. The Hurricanes eliminated the Devils by scoring twice in the final 80 seconds of Game 7 in their first-round series, turning an apparent loss into a 4-3 victory. The Devils are at home for the second night in a row; they lost 4-2 to Atlanta on Friday.
The Colorado Avalanche, one of the NHL's big early-season surprises, finish a week against Original Six teams with a visit to Detroit. The Avs are ending a six-day stretch this week in which they're playing four Original Six clubs, all on the road. They've already won at Boston, Toronto and Montreal -- where they spoiled the Canadiens' home opener with a 3-2 victory on Thursday. That gave Colorado a 5-1-1 record, a terrific start for a team that finished last in the West and 28th overall in 2008-09.
There are four other games that start at 7: Atlanta visits Buffalo in a meeting of two teams that won Friday night. The Sabres (4-0-1) are the only team without a regulation loss this season. Nashville takes a four-game losing streak to Washington, where Alex Ovechkin is coming off a two-goal game on Thursday. San Jose continues its Eastern trip with a visit to the winless New York Islanders, and the Los Angeles Kings play the fifth of a seven-game trip when they visit Columbus.
At 7:30, the Pittsburgh Penguins come home after sweeping a four-game road trip to face Tampa Bay. The Pens have split their two home games this season but have won all five on the road. The Lightning comes off their worst performance of the season, a 7-1 loss at Ottawa on Thursday night.
Chicago goes for its fifth consecutive victory and fourth in a row at the United Center when the Dallas Stars come to town (8:30 p.m.). At 5-1-1, the Hawks lead the Central Division. The Stars (2-1-3) were blanked 3-0 at home by Boston on Friday.
The Phoenix Coyotes try to build on their OT win over St. Louis on Thursday when the Bruins come to town for their second road game of the season (9 p.m. ET). Phoenix rallied to beat the Blues on Ed Jovanovski's overtime goal for their fourth win in six games. The Bruins, who went 2-3-0 in a season-opening five-game homestand, looked like their ’08-09 selves in the shutout win at Dallas on Friday.
There are two games on the West Coast.
In Vancouver, the Canucks try to bounce back from their 5-3 loss at Calgary on Friday when the Minnesota Wild comes to G.M. Place (10 p.m., ET, CBC). The Canucks (2-4-0) had four days off after their 4-3 shootout win over Dallas, but were blitzed by the Flames at the Saddledome. The Wild (1-5-0) have lost four in a row -- they were swept by the three California teams, ending with a 3-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday, and dropped a 5-2 decision at Edmonton on Friday.
The Ducks (3-2-1) have been off since that victory, and they'll go for consecutive home victories when the Blues come to town (10 p.m., ET). Anaheim's win over the Wild avenged a 4-3 loss at Minnesota eight days earlier. St. Louis (2-2-1) is still trying to find its rhythm after losing three in a row in North America following their two wins over Detroit in Stockholm.
Thrashers at Sabres, 7 PM
Rangers at Maple Leafs, 7 PM
Senators at Canadiens, 7 PM
Hurricanes at Devils, 7 PM
Sharks at Islanders, 7 PM
Predators at Capitals, 7 PM
Avalanche at Red Wings, 7 PM
Kings at Blue Jackets, 7 PM
Lightning at Penguins, 7:30 PM
Stars at Blackhawks, 8:30 PM
Bruins at Coyotes, 9:00 PM
aWild at Canucks, 10:00 PM
Blues at Ducks, 10:00 PM