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NHL schedule release: Lightning-Penguins, Kraken-Knights open season Oct. 12

Jul 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) hoists the Stanley Cup after the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five to win the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) hoists the Stanley Cup after the Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game five to win the 2021 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL revealed its schedule for the 2021-22 regular season Thursday evening, highlighted by the introduction of the league’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken.

The expansion Kraken will make their regular-season debut Oct. 12 by visiting the league’s most recent expansion club, the Vegas Golden Knights. Two weeks later, they will open their home digs, Climate Pledge Arena, on Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Seattle-Vegas game is the nightcap of an opening-night doubleheader Oct. 12 that kicks off when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Pittsburgh Penguins and hang their second straight Stanley Cup banner. Both games will air on ESPN in the U.S., after the league’s TV rights for the next seven years were bought up by both ESPN and Turner Sports this summer.

The next day, Oct. 13, features a nationally televised game between the New York Rangers and the host Washington Capitals. It marks their first meeting since they brawled on May 5 for a combined 141 penalty minutes late in the 2020-21 regular season.

The NHL will return to its normal division alignment of Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific this season after realigning for one year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and concerns. That return brings the Lightning and Montreal Canadiens back into the same division mere months after Tampa Bay bested Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final in five games.

The Lightning and Canadiens’ first Stanley Cup rematch is scheduled for Dec. 7 in Montreal.

A previously announced Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2022 will feature the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at Target Field in Minneapolis, home of Major League Baseball’s Twins.

The NHL also built in an Olympic break into the schedule for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. After NHL players missed the 2018 Olympics, the league and players association are reportedly still negotiating to allow the league’s stars to take time to compete in the upcoming Games, but that is not a done deal yet.

The Olympic break is scheduled for Feb. 7-22, immediately after the NHL All-Star break in Las Vegas Feb. 4-5.

The New York Islanders will debut their new home, UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y., on Nov. 20 against the Calgary Flames. New York will play its first 13 games on the road to allow for time to complete the construction of the new building.

Related: NHL trade rumors – Latest buzz for 2021 free agency

–Field Level Media