At 3-0-0, the Toronto Maple Leafs
are off to their best start since 1999-2000, the last time they won the Northeast Division title. It's a tremendous turnaround for a team that finished next-to-last in the overall standings last season following an 0-7-1 start.
The Leafs will try to make it four in a row to start the season when they visit Madison Square Garden for a meeting with the New York Rangers
, one of seven games on Friday night's NHL schedule.
The 7 p.m. ET game is the Rangers' home opener. They've been off since a 6-4 road loss to the Islanders on Monday. The Leafs won their first road game of the season by winning 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Three other games also face off at 7 p.m. ET.
The Penguins try for their first win in the Consol Energy Center when they host the Islanders, who lost 2-1 at Washington on Wednesday. They are 0-3-0 in their new home.
In Columbus, the Blue Jackets open their home season by hosting the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks
. The Jackets have been off since splitting two games with San Jose in Stockholm last weekend; the Hawks lost 3-2 at home to Nashville on Wednesday.
In Newark, N.J., the Colorado Avalanche
begin a three-game swing through the New York metropolitan area when they visit the Devils. Both teams are coming off road wins -- the Devils won 1-0 in overtime at Buffalo on Wednesday; Colorado won 5-4 in a shootout at Detroit on Tuesday.
At 7:30, the Buffalo Sabres
will celebrate the franchise's 40th anniversary by hosting the Montreal Canadiens
, just as they did in their first home game on Oct. 15, 1970. The Canadiens won that game 3-0 -- and the Sabres are having trouble scoring goals this season as well. They've dropped three in a row, all at home, including Wednesday's 1-0 OT loss to the Devils. Montreal lost its home opener on Wednesday, 4-3 in overtime to Tampa Bay.
Atlanta continues a swing through California with a visit to Anaheim at 10 p.m. ET. The Thrashers have been off since Tuesday's 3-1 loss at Los Angeles, while the Ducks beat Vancouver 4-3 in their home opener on Wednesday after dropping their first three games, all on the road.
The Canucks stayed in Southern California after the loss to the Ducks and visit Los Angeles at 10:30 p.m. ET. The teams are seeing each other for the second time in a week -- the Kings spoiled opening night for the sellout crowd in Vancouver last Saturday with a 2-1 shootout win.