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facts & figures

Facts and Figures: NHL teams ready for season openers

Lightning, Canadiens among those that have had success in inaugural games

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

The NHL drops the puck for its 101st opening night Wednesday. Here are some of the most successful teams, players and coaches from the first 100.

Team bests: Not counting the Vegas Golden Knights, who defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 in their inaugural game last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the best winning percentage (.680; 16-7-2) in season openers. The Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise is next at .645 (21-10-7). Colorado, which opens against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV), also has the second-best all-time winning percentage in home openers (.737; 26-8-4) behind the Wild (.853; 13-1-3), excluding Vegas.

The Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks are each 4-0-0 in season-opening games since 2014-15, the longest active winning streaks in inaugural games. The NHL record is nine straight wins, set by the Canadiens (1953-54 to 1961-62) and matched by the St. Louis Blues (1978-79 to 1986-87).

Tampa Bay, Montreal, Vancouver and the Washington Capitals (2-0-2 since 2014-15) share the longest active point streak in season openers. The NHL record is 17 consecutive season-opening games with a point set by the Canadiens, who won 13 games and tied four from 1963-64 to 1979-80.

Video: The crew makes their picks for the Eastern Conference

Fastest start: Kent Nilsson of the Minnesota North Stars owns the NHL record for the fastest goal from the start of a season opener. Nilsson scored 10 seconds into the game against the Nordiques on Oct. 11, 1986. That's two seconds faster than Ryan Walter of the Capitals against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 7, 1981, and three seconds faster than a pair of Chicago Blackhawks -- Denis Savard against the Pittsburgh Penguins, also on Oct. 7, 1981, and Bill Mosienko against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 31, 1943.

Mosienko's goal came in Chicago's first game, but it was the second of the 1943-44 season for Toronto. One night earlier, rookie forward Gus Bodnar set the NHL record for the fastest goal from the start of a career when he scored 15 seconds into the Maple Leafs' game against the New York Rangers.

Hat's off: The NHL record for goals by one player in a season opener is five; it happened twice in 1917-18 (Harry Hyland and Joe Malone) and once in 1922-23 (Babe Dye). The modern-era record is four, last achieved by Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews in his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 12, 2016. Matthews is the only player in the modern era to score four goals in his first game.

There have been 56 instances of a player scoring at least three goals in a season opener, including at least one in each of the past five seasons (four in 2017-18; two in 2016-17; two in 2015-16; one in 2014-15 and two in 2013-14).

Ten active players have had a hat trick in a season opener. Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia Flyers), Brandon Saad (Blackhawks) and Alex Ovechkin (Capitals) did it last season.

Player bests: The NHL record for assists in a season opener is five, set by New Jersey Devils forward Greg Adams against the Flyers on Oct. 10, 1985, and matched by Penguins center John Cullen against Washington on Oct. 5, 1990. Two of Cullen's assists came on goals by Kevin Stevens, who set the NHL record for points in a season opener with six (two goals, four assists) that night.

Jaromir Jagr is the leader in points in season openers with 39 (13 goals, 26 assists) in 23 games. Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque is second with 30 (nine goals, 21 assists) in 21 games. San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton tops all active players with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists), one more than longtime teammate Patrick Marleau, now with the Maple Leafs. Marleau is No. 1 among active players in opening-night goals (10).

Three players had at least four points in their teams' season openers in each of the past two seasons. Overall, there have been 96 instances all-time of a player finishing with at least four points in a season opener, including at least one to begin each of the past seven seasons (three in 2017-18 and 2016-17; one in 2015-16; two in 2014-15; one in 2013-14; three in 2012-13 and one in 2011-12).

Video: NHL Tonight previews the 2018-19 Toronto Maple Leafs

Goalies shining: Marc-Andre Fleury (9-4-0) of the Golden Knights and Ryan Miller (9-3-1) of the Anaheim Ducks enter 2018-19 one shy of the NHL record for wins in season openers. Martin Brodeur (18 games played) and Curtis Joseph (13) each had 10 opening-night wins.

Fleury, Antti Niemi of the Canadiens (six games played), Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings (seven) and Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers (15) each have two shutouts in season openers. Hockey Hall of Famers Glenn Hall (11 games played) and Jacques Plante (12) share the record with three.

Coaching numbers: Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins (3-0-0), Jared Bednar of the Avalanche (2-0-0) and Travis Green of the Canucks (1-0-0) are the only active coaches with a perfect record in season openers. Four other active coaches have not lost a season opener in regulation: Mike Yeo (Blues; 5-0-1), Guy Boucher (Senators; 4-0-1), Dave Hakstol (Flyers; 2-0-1) and Phil Housley (Sabres; 0-0-1).

Housley is one of seven active coaches seeking his first win in a season opener. In addition to the NHL's four first-time coaches -- Rod Brind'Amour (Carolina Hurricanes), Jim Montgomery (Stars), Todd Reirden (Capitals) and David Quinn (Rangers) -- Rick Tocchet (Arizona Coyotes) is 0-2-0 and Bob Boughner (Panthers) is 0-1-0.

Newcomers: Each of the top five picks from the 2018 NHL Draft (Rasmus Dahlin, Sabres; Andrei Svechnikov, Hurricanes; Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Canadiens; Brady Tkachuk, Senators; and Barrett Hayton, Coyotes) remains on an NHL roster. Only once in the past 31 years has each of the top five picks played in a season-opening game immediately following their draft. That came in 2008-09, when center Steven Stamkos (Lightning), and defensemen Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Zach Bogosian (Atlanta Thrashers), Alex Pietrangelo (Blues) and Luke Schenn (Maple Leafs), did it.

Dahlin is set to become the fourth-youngest defenseman in the past 20 years to make his NHL debut. He will be 18 years, 175 days when the Sabres face the Bruins at KeyBank Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NESN, NHL.TV). The Sabres record for points by a rookie defenseman is 66 (19 goals, 47 assists) was set in 1982-83 by Housley, who will coach Dahlin in his NHL debut.

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