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10 must-see games in 2018-19

Capitals raising Cup banner, two outdoor games, Global Series in Sweden, Finland among highlights

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The NHL released its 1,271-game 2018-19 regular-season schedule Thursday, one day after revealing each of the 31 teams' home openers.

With the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN) and rounds 2-7 on Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, SN), followed by the free agency signing period beginning July 1, there are already plenty of games to look forward to.


[RELATED: Complete 2018-19 NHL schedule | 2018-19 NHL schedule released]


Here's a look at 10 must-see games in 2018-19:


Oct. 3: Boston Bruins at Washington Capitals

Capitals home opener

After winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 43-season history, Conn Smythe Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin, center Nicklas Backstrom, goaltender Braden Holtby and the rest of the Capitals will raise the Stanley Cup banner against the Bruins at Capital One Arena. Washington defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights on their run to the title. It will also be the debut for a new Capitals coach after Barry Trotz resigned Monday.


Oct. 4: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres

Possible Rasmus Dahlin NHL debut

This likely will be the NHL debut for defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, projected to be the No. 1 pick by the Sabres, at KeyBank Center. Dahlin had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 41 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League and was named best defenseman at the 2018 World Junior Championship, where he had six assists in seven games to help Sweden win a silver medal. He also played for Sweden at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and could be on Buffalo's top defense pair before long.

Video: What Rasmus Dahlin can bring to the table


Oct. 6: Edmonton Oilers vs. New Jersey Devils

2018 NHL Global Series, Gothenburg, Sweden

The Oilers and Devils will open the NHL season at the Scandinavium in a matchup between Edmonton center Connor McDavid, who won the scoring title this season, and New Jersey forward Taylor Hall, who won the Hart Trophy. Devils forwards Marcus Johansson and Jesper Bratt and Oilers defenseman Adam Larssson each were born in Sweden, making the matchup extra special for them. It will be the seventh time and second straight season the NHL has played regular-season games in Europe.


Oct. 10: Vegas Golden Knights at Washington Capitals

Stanley Cup Final rematch

The Capitals defeated the expansion Golden Knights in five games in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the final four games of the series after losing Game 1. Vegas will get its first shot at redemption less than a week into the season when they visit Washington at Capital One Arena. The teams meet for the second and final time of the regular season at T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 4.

Video: The Vegas Golden Knights have found their home


Oct. 11: Winnipeg Jets at Nashville Predators

Western Conference Second Round rematch

The Central Division rivals finished as the top two teams in the NHL during the regular season, with the Predators (117 points) winning the Presidents' Trophy and the Jets (114) right behind them. They had a second-round clash in the playoffs, alternating wins and losses in a seven-game series won by Winnipeg, when center Mark Scheifele set an NHL record with seven goals on the road. This will be Nashville's first chance to avenge that playoff loss, at Bridgestone Arena.


Nov. 1-2: Florida Panthers vs. Winnipeg Jets

2018 NHL Global Series, Helsinki

The Jets, who advanced to the Western Conference Final, and Panthers, who missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point, will play in the NHL's second matchup in Europe next season, at Hartwall Arena. Center Aleksander Barkov, 22, who led the Panthers in scoring last season with 78 points (27 goals, 51 assists), and Winnipeg forward Patrik Laine, 20, who finished second in the NHL with 44 goals, each was born in Tampere, Finland, and will be looking to put on a show.


Jan. 1, 2019: Boston Bruins at Chicago Blackhawks

2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Notre Dame Stadium

The two Original Six teams will meet for the first time in an outdoor game. The Bruins are 1-1-0 in the Winter Classic, most recently losing against the Montreal Canadiens in 2016; the Blackhawks are 0-3-0 in the Winter Classic and 1-4-0 in outdoor games, including the Coors Light Stadium Series. It should be an electric atmosphere in South Bend, Indiana, in front of a crowd of around 80,000.

Jan. 18, 2019: New York Islanders at Washington Capitals

Trotz returns to Washington

Trotz, who stepped down as coach of the Capitals on June 18 after leading them to the Stanley Cup and was hired by the Islanders three days later, will have a bit of a wait before returning to coach in Washington. The Metropolitan Division rivals play for the first time on Nov. 26 at Barclays Center, but not at Capital One Arena in Washington until the Islanders' 47th game of the season. Trotz likely will get a nice ovation after helping the Capitals to their first championship.

Feb. 23, 2019: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers

Coors Light Stadium Series, Lincoln Financial Field

The longtime division and intrastate rivals are no strangers to each other and will play for the second time in three seasons in a Stadium Series game. The Penguins defeated the Flyers 4-2 at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2017. This time, the Flyers will host the game at the home of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.


Feb. 27, 2019: Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs

Connor McDavid vs. Auston Matthews

McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, and Matthews, a center and the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, will go head to head for the first of two times next season. Matthews, the 2017 Calder Trophy winner as the NHL's top rookie, is 3-0-0 against the Oilers in his NHL career and has two goals and three points. McDavid, who won the Ted Lindsay Award as the most outstanding player as voted by the NHLPA on Wednesday, has eight points (four goals, four assists) in five NHL games against Toronto.

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