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When the National Hockey League announced the complete 2017-18 regular-season schedule on Thursday, Penguins fans were among the big winners. During the upcoming season, there will be 11 Saturday home games at PPG Paints Arena, including nine night games.
The first of those Saturday night affairs will come on October 7 when the Penguins host the Nashville Predators at 7:00 PM in a rematch of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. All of the Pens' Saturday night home games can be viewed in a table near the bottom of the release.
Another date that Penguins fans will circle on the calendar is the return of three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury with his new club, the Vegas Golden Knights. His return to Pittsburgh will come on Tuesday, February 6 at 7:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena. Fleury, the winningest goalie in Pens history, was claimed by the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh's title defense will feature a 13-game October slate, beginning with back-to-back games to open the season. The Penguins host the St. Louis Blues in the home opener on Wednesday, October 4 at 8:00 PM. Prior to that game will be Pittsburgh's banner-raising ceremony. One night later, the Pens visit the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 PM in a meeting between the teams that have claimed six of the last 10 Stanley Cups.
This year, thanks to the addition of the Golden Knights, the format of the schedule changes slightly. The Penguins will play the other seven teams in the Metropolitan Division four times each (twice at home & twice on the road). Previously, an unbalanced schedule saw Pittsburgh play two of its division foes five times each, and the other five clubs four times each.
The Penguins will play teams in the Atlantic Division three times each (see the bottom of the release for a complete breakdown of the home/road splits), and Pittsburgh will face all 15 Western Conference teams twice each, once at home and once on the road.
Fans won't have to wait long to see back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophy winner Sidney Crosby go head-to-head against reigning regular-season MVP Connor McDavid. The two will meet at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday, October 24 at 7:00 PM, then again eight days later on Wednesday, November 1 at 8:30 PM at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Last year, the Pens won both meetings between the clubs, the first-ever matchups between Crosby and McDavid.
One treat for Penguins fans in 2017-18 is two visits to Pittsburgh from Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both contests are Saturday night affairs at PPG Paints Arena, with the first on December 9, and the second on February 17.
Along the way during their championship path in this past postseason, the Penguins had to defeat the NHL's fourth-best team from the regular season in the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round, followed by the regular season's best team, the Washington Capitals, in the second round.
The Capitals won't have to wait long to see the Penguins, hosting Pittsburgh on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 PM at the Verizon Center. On the flip side, the Capitals don't come to PPG Paints Arena until Friday, February 2 at 7:00 PM.
Columbus gets its first crack at Pittsburgh on Thursday, December 21 at 7:00 PM at PPG Paints Arena. The clubs actually play twice in a six-day span surrounding Christmas, as the Jackets quickly return to Pittsburgh for a second and final time on Wednesday, December 27 at 7:00 PM.
On Monday, November 27, the rival Philadelphia Flyers invade PPG Paints Arena for the first of two meetings at 7:00 PM. Another long-time division rival, the New York Rangers, visit for the first time on Tuesday, December 5 at 7:00 PM.
Pittsburgh will return to the scene of its 2017 Stanley Cup championship-clinching defeat on Saturday, November 11, as the Penguins and Predators face off at 8:00 PM at Bridgestone Arena in their final meeting of the season.
The first rematch of the Eastern Conference Final will be Thursday, November 16 when the Pens and Ottawa Senators battle at Canadian Tire Centre. Ottawa's first trip to Pittsburgh is Tuesday, February 13 at 7:00 PM.
Fives are wild for the Penguins in 2017-18, as Pittsburgh's longest homestand and its longest road trip will be five games each. The Penguins are home for five-consecutive contests between Dec. 2-11, hosting Buffalo, the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Toronto and Colorado. Between October 28-November 4, the Pens will be away for five games, starting in Minnesota, then continuing through Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Other schedule tidbits include:
- Pittsburgh's first visit to Las Vegas to play Fleury and the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena will be Thursday, December 14 at 10:00 PM.
- The five-day stretch between Jan. 8-12 will be the Penguins' longest of the season without a game.
- The final contest of the five home games the Penguins will host in October is against Patrik Laine and the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, October 26.
- The Penguins don't play the Montreal Canadiens until the 72nd game of the season on Thursday, March 15. Beginning that night, the Pens and Habs will square off three times in a 17-day span.
- Pittsburgh ends the regular season with back-to-back games. The front half will be at Columbus on Thursday, April 5, and the season finale will be Friday, April 6 against Ottawa at PPG Paints Arena.
- The Pens play 19 sets of back-to-back games throughout the season.
As mentioned at the top of the release, this year the Penguins will play 11 Saturday home games. Here are the times and opponents for those matchups:
|Date ||Time ||Opponent |
|October 7 ||7:00 PM ||Nashville |
|October 14 ||7:00 PM ||Florida |
|November 18 ||7:00 PM ||Chicago |
|November 25 ||7:00 PM ||Tampa Bay |
|December 2 ||7:00 PM ||Boston |
|December 9 ||7:00 PM ||Toronto |
|Deember 23 ||7:00 PM ||Anaheim |
|January 13 ||1:00 PM ||Detroit |
|February 17 ||7:00 PM ||Toronto |
|March 3 ||5:00 PM ||New York Islanders |
|March 31 ||7:00 PM ||Montreal |
The Atlantic Division teams the Penguins will play twice at home, and once on the road, are: Buffalo, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.
The Atlantic Division teams the Pens will host once at home, and visit twice on the road, are: Boston, Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay.