BLACKHAWKS (0-0-1) at PANTHERS (1-0-0), Helsinki
Season series: Florida won the first meeting of the season between these two teams this year, taking a 4-3 shootout decision in Helsnki. Last season, Chicago won the only meeting between these two teams, taking a 4-0 decision in Sunrise, Fla.
Big Story: These two teams have started the NHL regular season in Helsinki after spending most of the past week playing throughout Europe. Friday's season-opening game was an entertaining, taut affair that ended when hometown hero Ville Koistinen scored the winning goal in the shootout. Now, less than 24 hours later, the teams are back at it and Chicago is looking for revenge. "We know we’re coming back (Saturday) night and we have a chance to get three out of four points," Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell said. "That's how I look at it now."
Panthers: Florida is happy it got the win Friday night, but the Panthers know they have to be better in a lot of areas after giving up 50 shots in regulation and another 5 in overtime. "The first game is always tough for guys to get going," goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "Everybody has to get better, that's how an NHL season goes. You need to get better because everybody else does."
Blackhawks: Chicago does not want to go home with two losses on its ledger, so Saturday night's game is of huge importance to a team that has stated its goal is to win the Central Division. The Hawks take solace from the 55-shot effort they put forth, but they are concerned with the fact that they allowed three one-goal leads to evaporate. "We had two leads in the third period and that was one of our strengths last year that we were able to close teams out and find a way to win," coach Joel Quenneville said. "This leaves a sour taste. But we’ll regroup and get excited about tomorrow's game."
Who's Hot: Patrick Kane, the brightest light in Chicago's galaxy of stars, finished the preseason with four goals in the final three games and then added a goal and an assist on Friday night. "I thought he had a very good camp. He looks like he has a little more quickness to his game. Obviously, he's a young guy and he's gotten stronger and knows the League a little bit better," Quenneville told NHL.com.
Florida's David Booth has gotten better during each of his three seasons in the NHL. He has a chance to make the United States Olympic team and got off to a fast start with a beautiful individual-effort goal that tied the game at 3-all. Goalie Tomas Vokoun is also flying after his 52-save performance, which included 22 saves in the third period alone.
Injury Report: Marian Hossa and Adam Burish are starting the season on injured reserve for Chicago. Meanwhile, Kris Versteeg, one of the top rookies in the League last season, and Dustin Byfuglien are rounding back into shape after training-camp injuries. Byfuglien scored Chicago's second goal Friday night. Florida is battling the flu bug with a bunch of players laid low. All but Jason Garrison, however, were healthy enough to dress.
Stat Pack: Chicago finished in the top five in both goals for (264) and goals against (216) last season. "How we played defensively definitely led to a lot of our offense," Campbell said.
Puck Drop: Can Game 2 of the 2009 NHL Compuware Premiere Helsinki series top the drama produced by Game 1? Fortunately, we don't have to wait long to find out as these teams get right back at it less than 24 hours after the first game ended. Both coaches and players said the first game was played at a tremendously high pace and there were little of the early-season glitches that often plague teams just starting their season. Now, both teams are desperate to take two points from Saturday's game to make that night's long transatlantic flight just a little more bearable.
-- Shawn P. Roarke, NHL.com