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Saturday spectacular: 13 games on a busy NHL night

by John Kreiser /
Saturday is a big night for hockey fans. There are 13 games are on the schedule, with all but four teams spending their night on the ice.

The six games that start at 7 p.m. ET are highlighted by a rare visit to Detroit by the Washington Capitals. The Caps have been lighting up the scoreboard behind Nicklas Backstrom (a League-leading 10 points), Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin (9 each). But they've allowed 10 goals in their last two games, and coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't happy with his team's performance in a sloppy 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday.

One player Boudreau won't have to worry about in Detroit is Johan Franzen. The Wings announced Friday that Franzen will miss about four months due to a torn knee ligament. Franzen's absence will force Wings coach Mike Babcock to do some line-shuffling -- though he still has stars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg to work with.

Also at 7 p.m., Pittsburgh pays its first visit of the season to Toronto (CBC, NHL Network), where the Leafs are looking for their first victory of the season. The New York Islanders visit Boston, Anaheim is at Philadelphia, unbeaten Atlanta is at Ottawa and New Jersey plays at Florida in the Panthers' home opener. At 7:30, Carolina plays at Tampa Bay.

At 8:30, the Chicago Blackhawks play their first game of the season at the United Center when Colorado comes to town. The Hawks went 1-0-1 against Florida in Helsinki last weekend and lost 3-2 at Detroit on Thursday. The United Center will be rocking as the Hawks take the ice for the first time since last May.

A half-hour earlier, Los Angeles starts a long road trip in St. Louis and Buffalo is at Nashville.

It's "Welcome Back WhiteOut" night at Arena in Glendale, Ariz., when the Phoenix Coyotes finally play their first home game (9 p.m. ET). The Columbus Blue Jackets are the party of the second part -- the third time in as many games that the Jackets have been the guests at the opposition's home opener. The building is sold out -- a terrific accomplishment for a team that spent most of the summer not knowing if it might be moved.

The Coyotes come into their home opener with a 2-1-0 record that includes a 3-0 shutout of the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in Pittsburgh.

At 10 p.m. ET, the Montreal Canadiens continue their swing through Western Canada when they visit the Edmonton Oilers (CBC, NHL Network). Both teams are coming off losses -- the Canadiens were routed 7-1 in Vancouver on Wednesday, while the Oilers couldn't hold a lead in the final two seconds of regulation against Calgary on Thursday and wound up losing 4-3 in a shootout -- the second painful loss to their Alberta rivals in less than a week.

The San Jose Sharks, fresh of a 6-3 win over Columbus that included Dany Heatley's hat trick, host Minnesota at 10:30 ET. The Wild tried to rally after spotting Los Angeles a 4-0 lead on Thursday night, but wound up losing 6-3.

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