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NHL gets ready for its longest day of hockey

by John Kreiser
Saturday will be the longest, busiest day in the history of the National Hockey League.

For only the third time in NHL history, all 30 teams will be in action. But unlike the two previous occasions (Oct. 5, 2005, and Oct. 25, 2008), the 15-game schedule will be an all-day affair. The first faceoff will take place shortly after noon ET when the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers meet in Helsinki, Finland, as part of the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere, and the final buzzer will sound 5,600 miles away and about 13 hours later when the Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings finish their game at Staples Center.

Here's a look at some of the facts and figures for the NHL's longest day:

0 -- Games that are scheduled for Sunday. After all, players, coaches, fans and writers all need a rest after a day like this. Aside from the holiday break and the Olympics, it's the only complete day off this season.

1 -- Shutouts by the visiting team in the first two 15-game days. San Jose blanked the Lightning 3-0 in Tampa Bay last year, the only time a road club has held the home team scoreless. Florida (2-0 over Atlanta in 2005) and St. Louis (4-0 over Florida last year) had shutouts at home.

2 -- Games scheduled to be played in Europe. Chicago and Florida face off in Helsinki and Detroit meets St. Louis in Stockholm in the 2009 Compuware NHL Premiere. The teams also played Friday. In the previous two occasions, all 15 games were played in North America.

2 -- Teams that are playing at home for the third time in as many 15-game days. Boston hosts Carolina and Nashville comes to Dallas.

3 -- New York metropolitan area teams that are home on Saturday night. The Rangers host Ottawa, the Islanders are home to Pittsburgh and New Jersey hosts Philadelphia.

4 -- Biggest comeback on a 15-game day. The Dallas Stars spotted the Los Angeles Kings a 4-0 lead on opening night of the 2005-06 season, then roared back with five consecutive goals for a 5-4 victory.

5 -- Teams that lost both games in regulation on previous 15-game days. The Islanders, Atlanta Thrashers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes went 0-2-0. Pittsburgh also lost both games, but last year's 3-2 loss to the Rangers came in a shootout, giving the Penguins a point.

5 -- Teams that have been the visitors on all three 15-game days. Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Carolina, Calgary and San Jose will be wearing the white uniforms for the third time. At least the Senators get to play somewhere other than Toronto -- the Senators visited Air Canada Centre on both previous 15-game days. This time, they're in New York to play the Rangers.

6 -- Most goals scored by any team on either of the two previous 15-game days. It’s been done four times in non-shootout games: Buffalo and Minnesota each scored six in 2005; Anaheim, Washington and Vancouver had six in victories last year. Detroit also beat Chicago 6-5 in a game last year in a game that was decided in a shootout.

6 -- Games decided after regulation. In 2005, Ottawa edged Toronto 3-2 in a shootout. Last year, the Rangers beat Pittsburgh 3-2, Detroit topped Chicago 6-5 and Colorado beat Buffalo 2-1 in games decided by the breakaway competition.

7 -- Teams that went 2-0 on the previous 15-game days. The Rangers and Washington Capitals are the only Eastern Conference teams that earned all four available points; in the West, Detroit, Nashville, Vancouver, Minnesota and Anaheim all went 2-0. The Ducks' accomplishment was perhaps the most impressive, since they were the only ones to win twice on the road.

14 -- Teams that will be opening their season on Saturday. Eight teams started on Thursday and eight more on Friday -- including the Red Wings, Blues, Blackhawks and Panthers in Europe.

20 -- Victories by the home team in the 30 previous games on the two 15-game days. Home teams went 11-4-0 in 2005 and 9-4-2 last year. Visiting teams were 4-10-1 in 2005 and 6-6-3 last year.

21 -- Days until the NHL's second 15-game day of the season. On Oct. 24, all 30 teams will again be in action -- though this time, all of them will be playing in North America and all 15 games will start between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.

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