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NHL schedule set for busy three days

Capitals-Islanders rematch, Pietrangelo facing Blues for first time to headline slate of 29 games

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Rematches, reunions and red-hot starts headline a busy three days in the NHL that will see 29 games played, starting with 13 Tuesday.

After a two-game schedule Wednesday, 14 more games are set to played Thursday, making it the 15th time since 2005-06 that the NHL schedule has featured two nights with at least 13 games in a 72-hour period.

Ten of the 13 matchups Tuesday will be repeated Thursday because of the unique nature of this season that involves more of a baseball-style schedule with several two- and three-game sets.

Of the 36 sets of two or more games already played this season, the team that loses the first game is 20-12-4 in the second, an example of how difficult it is in the NHL to defeat the same team twice in a row in a short period of time.

But that's just one of the many interesting storylines to what should be a fascinating few days in the NHL.

There will be Stanley Cup Playoff rematches, including one between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSWA+) and again Thursday. They play for the first time since Aug. 20, when the Islanders ended a five-game series against the Capitals in the Eastern Conference First Round with a 4-0 win. 

Islanders coach Barry Trotz was the Capitals coach from 2014-18, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 2018. Capitals coach Peter Laviolette coached the Islanders from 2001-03.

The Capitals won't have forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goalie Ilya Samsonov for both games at Capital One Arena. They remain unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol and local restrictions. Washington is 1-0-1 without them.

Alex Pietrangelo's first game against his former team headlines the marquee matchup in the Honda West Division. 

The Vegas Golden Knights defenseman will play against the St. Louis Blues for the first time at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ATTSN-RM, FS-MW, NHL.TV) and then again Thursday.

Pietrangelo signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract ($8.8 million average annual value) with Vegas on Oct. 13. The 31-year-old played his first 12 seasons with the Blues, including the past four as captain, and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2019.

He has three points (one goal, two assists) in his first six games with the Golden Knights, who lead the division with 10 points (5-1-0).

Video: ARI@VGK: Pietrangelo notches first goal with Vegas

"Get it over with," Pietrangelo said of playing the Blues for the first time. "It'll be interesting tomorrow, but once you get a couple shifts, get a few bumps, I think you move past that and play the game."

The New Jersey Devils look to continue their surprising 3-1-1 start when they play the Philadelphia Flyers at Prudential Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NBCSP, NHL.TV) and Thursday.

Two of the reasons for the Devils' hot start are forward Jack Hughes (three goals, four assists) and rookie defenseman Ty Smith (one goal, five assists), who are showing how bright the future in New Jersey looks. 

Smith, who had two assists in a 2-0 win against the Islanders on Sunday, is the sixth defenseman in NHL history to begin his career with a point streak of at least five games. 

Anze Kopitar is also looking to stay hot. The Los Angeles Kings captain carries a four-game point streak (one goal, seven assists) into Xcel Energy Center for games against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-WI, FS-W, NHL.TV) and Thursday.

Video: COL@LAK: Kopitar, Kempe team up to put Kings ahead

Kopitar leads the NHL with nine assists and is tied with Mitchell Marner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers for the NHL lead with 10 points. 

"'Kopi' is so consistent in the things that he does," Kings coach Todd McLellan said. "He commits to both ends of the rink and that allows him to be good at both. I think there are some great offensive players that cheat to get their offense, and as a result it hurts the team. That's never the way 'Kopi' has played, and I don't think he'll ever finish his career cheating. He sets the tone and when you play the right way, you often get rewarded or your linemates do."

The Pittsburgh Penguins will carry the longest active winning streak at four games into TD Garden for two games against the Boston Bruins, who have won two in a row.

The Penguins have won all four games by one goal, including 3-2 against the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena on Sunday, when forward Jake Guentzel scored with 1:31 remaining in the third period to give Pittsburgh its first regulation victory this season.

Tristan Jarry seems to have righted himself after a rocky start. The Penguins goalie allowed five goals on 60 shots in two straight wins against the Rangers after allowing nine goals on 33 shots in his first two starts against the Flyers.

Then there's the scorching Dallas Stars power play, which went 8-for-12 in wins against the Nashville Predators on Friday and Sunday.

The Stars have a good chance of staying hot against the Detroit Red Wings, who were 4-for-7 on the penalty kill in losses to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Sunday.

"They are snapping it around," Stars coach Rick Bowness said of the power play. "Right now, they are feeling it."

And if you're looking for more offense and drama, the Scotia North Division continues to be the place. Five of the top six and eight of the top 12 scorers in the NHL entering Monday play in the North.

Tuesday features some rematches of games played Sunday, when the Edmonton Oilers got a last-second goal from forward Leon Draisaitl to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 at Bell MTS Centre, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome.

Draisaitl, whose game-winning goal was the latest in Oilers history, has scored in three straight games. Marner has nine points (four goals, five assists) in the past four games for Toronto. 

The Maple Leafs and Oilers also begin a two-game set at Rogers Place on Thursday, which means the possibility of more offense from McDavid and Toronto center Auston Matthews. 

But, first, stay busy with 13 games Tuesday.

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