Nikita Kucherov, the reigning NHL scoring champion, helped the Tampa Bay Lightning extend the League's longest active season-opening winning streak to six, contributing a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win against the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Thursday.
The NHL record for longest season-opening winning streak is nine, set by the Montreal Canadiens (1953-54 through 1961-62) and matched by the St. Louis Blues (1978-79 through 1986-87).
Tampa Bay improved to 18-7 with two ties in 27 season-opening games since entering the NHL in 1992. The Lightning's point percentage of .703 in season openers is the best among current NHL teams. They are followed by the Vegas Golden Knights (.667; 2-1-0) and the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques (.662; 23-10-1 with six ties), who also won their season openers this year.
Avalanche continue season-opening success under Bednar
Colorado made it four wins in as many season openers since Jared Bednar took over as coach in 2016-17 by defeating the Calgary Flames 5-3 at Pepsi Center.
Only Tom Renney (8-0-0), Toe Blake (7-0-0), Tommy Ivan (7-0-0), Lester Patrick (7-0-0) and Michel Bergeron (6-0-0) have had a longer winning streak from the start of their NHL coaching career than Bednar.
Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi each scored twice for Colorado, marking the second instance in Avalanche/Nordiques history when two players each scored multiple goals in a season opener. The other was on Oct. 9, 1980, when Quebec's Michel Goulet and Jacques Richard each scored twice in a 5-5 tie with Calgary.
Colorado has defeated the Flames in five consecutive games, dating to Game 2 of the 2019 Western Conference First Round.
Video: CGY@COL: Rantanen snipes second goal on power play
Rangers get boost from newcomers against Jets
Forward Artemi Panarin and defenseman Jacob Trouba, two of the New York Rangers' key offseason acquisitions, combined for two goals and five points to help their new team outlast the Winnipeg Jets 6-4 at Madison Square Garden.
Trouba, traded to the Rangers by the Jets on June 17, scored a goal and had two assists. His three points are the most by a defenseman in his first game with the Rangers and one point shy of the most by any Rangers player in his debut with New York. Doug Bentley (Jan. 20, 1954) and Derick Brassard (April 3, 2013) each had four points (one goal, three assists) in his first game with the Rangers.
Panarin, who signed a seven-year contract with the Rangers on July 1 after becoming an unrestricted free agent, had a goal and an assist.
Henrik Lundqvist made 43 saves in his 14th consecutive season-opening start with the Rangers to earn his 450th NHL win. Lundqvist's 43 saves matched the team record for most in a season opener since shots on goal became an official statistic, equaling the mark set by Gump Worsley in a 7-4 win at the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, 1955.
Kaapo Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, became the first player born in 2001 to skate in an NHL game. He had three shots on goal in 15:31 of ice time.
Video: WPG@NYR: Panarin nets PPG in first game with Rangers
Duchene has big night in debut with Predators
Matt Duchene assisted on three goals in his first game with the Nashville Predators, helping his new team rally for a 5-2 win against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Two of the assists came in the third period, when the Predators scored four goals.
Duchene, who signed a seven-year contract with the Predators on July 1 after becoming an unrestricted free agent, fell one point shy of the team record for most points a player in his first game with the Predators. Steve Sullivan had four points (three goals, one assist) on Feb. 18, 2004.