Fifteen games … 30 teams … 600 players … 60 officials … 250,000-plus fans.
Just another Saturday night in the National Hockey League? Well, not quite.
For the second time this season and just the fourth time in history, the NHL will have all 30 teams in action on Saturday. Unlike Oct. 3, the previous instance this season in which every team played, there are no games in Europe and none scheduled for the afternoon -- just 15 games scheduled to begin in a three-hour span, beginning a little after 7 p.m. ET.
Perhaps the team most eager to get back onto the ice is the Toronto Maple Leafs
, who've been sitting at home all week after a 4-1 home loss to the New York Rangers
last Saturday dropped them to 0-6-1, matching the worst start in franchise history. The Leafs have spent a week looking at that goose egg in the win column, so expect them to be revved up when they step onto the ice at G.M. Place for a rare visit to Vancouver (7 p.m. ET, CBC, NHL Network-U.S.).
Toronto GM Brian Burke
and his assistant, Dave Nonis, both used to run the Canucks and will be making their first visit to G.M. Place in charge of the Leafs.
The Canucks are coming off their first road win of the season, a 3-2 victory at Chicago on Wednesday. They're 3-1-0 at home this season and have won their last four meetings with the Leafs. Toronto hasn't won at G.M. Place since a 5-3 victory on Nov. 22, 2003 -- nearly six years ago.
Five other games also get under way at 7.
Montreal tries to make it three consecutive victories when the New York Rangers
come to town (CBC, RDS). The Canadiens are coming off their best performance of the season, a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders
, while the Rangers have lost their last two -- both at home -- after reeling off seven wins in a row.
Boston visits Ottawa in a battle of Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins won five of six meetings with the Senators last season while rolling to the division title; this season, they're only 4-4-1 and have yet to win two in a row. Ottawa is 5-2-1, a far better start than last season when the Senators missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
rarely had much success against the New York Islanders
until last season, when he scored six times in four games -- including a pair of overtime winners at the Nassau Coliseum. Ovi and the Washington Capitals
will try to spoil the night for fans on Long Island once again while getting their first look at Isles rookie John Tavares
, who has seven points in his first eight NHL games.
San Jose continues a six-game road trip with a visit to Atlanta. The Sharks are 2-2-0 on their trip but are coming off a 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Thrashers are 4-2-1 after seven games, largely thanks to captain Ilya Kovalchuk
, who scored his eighth and ninth goals in a 5-4 home loss to Washington on Thursday.
The Florida Panthers
will try to bounce back from a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh on Friday night they visit Philadelphia. The Panthers, who beat the Flyers 4-2 in Florida eight days ago, led Pittsburgh 2-0 in the third period before Sidney Crosby
scored twice in regulation and once in the shootout. Philadelphia beat Boston 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday, the Flyers' first game since the loss at Florida.
The Penguins go for their eighth win in a row and 10th in 11 games when they host the New Jersey Devils
at 7:30 p.m. ET. Marc-Andre Fleury
figures to be back in the net for the Penguins after Brent Johnson
beat the Panthers for his first win. The Devils are a perfect 4-0-0 on the road after a 4-2 win over the Rangers in New York on Thursday.
Also at 7:30, the Buffalo Sabres
will try to complete a two-game sweep of their trip to Florida when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning
. Buffalo scored five times in the first period and rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Panthers on Wednesday. The Sabres have won seven of their last eight visits to the St. Pete Times Forum and are 21-7 with three ties at Tampa Bay since the Lightning entered the NHL in 1992.
The St. Louis Blues
try to make it two home wins in as many nights when they host Dallas (8 p.m. ET). The Blues beat Minnesota 3-1 on Friday for their first win of the season at the Scottrade Center. Dallas is coming off a 1-0-1 trip to Southern California, though the Stars lost 5-4 in overtime at Los Angeles on Thursday.
The Wild went home after the loss to St. Louis and will host the struggling Carolina Hurricanes
(8 p.m. ET). Minnesota is 2-7-0, with two wins at home and seven losses on the road. Carolina, which lost 5-4 at Colorado on Friday to fall to 2-5-2, is trying to avoid an 0-for-4 road trip.
Chicago may not be at full strength when the Nashville Predators come to town (8:30 p.m. ET). Captain Jonathan Toews left Wednesday's game after a thunderous third-period hit by Vancouver's Willie Mitchell and didn't practice Thursday or Friday. The Predators come to the United Center off a wild 6-5 overtime win at Ottawa that snapped a six-game losing streak.
Colorado stayed home after Friday's win and will host the Detroit Red Wings
on Saturday. It's a rematch of their game in Detroit last Saturday -- a game in which the Avs rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits in the third period to beat the Wings 4-3 in a shootout. Colorado is 7-1-2 and has won all three of its games at the Pepsi Center, while Detroit has yet to win on the road.
The top two teams in the Pacific Division get together in Glendale, Ariz., where the surprising Phoenix Coyotes
host the almost-as-surprising Los Angeles Kings
(9 p.m. ET). The Coyotes have won six of their first eight games for the first time since 2000-01 and are coming off an emotional 3-2 overtime win at home over Detroit. The Kings are 6-4-0 after Thursday's 5-4 OT win at home over Dallas, but one of those losses came three weeks earlier when the Coyotes won 6-3 to spoil L.A.'s home opener.
The Oilers and Flames, who played at Edmonton three weeks ago on this season's first 15-game night, go at it again (10 p.m. ET, CBC), though they'll face off this time at the Pengrowth Saddledome. The Flames have won the first two editions of this season's Battle of Alberta, and Calgary stunned the Oilers and their fans on Oct. 3 with a last-minute goal for a 4-3 victory at Rexall Place.
Both the Flames and Oilers are coming off home wins over Columbus, and the Blue Jackets are undoubtedly happy to have left Western Canada for Southern California, where they'll visit the Anaheim Ducks
(10 p.m. ET). The Jackets allowed six goals in each game in Alberta and will try to tighten up against the Ducks, who've struggled to score and are coming off a 4-2 home loss to Dallas.