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Monday, June 20, 2016

The Skinny on the Openers

The NHL announced each team's home opener today, and with that the first three Islander games became known.

The Isles will open their 45th NHL season on Thursday, October 13th at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.  It will be only the second time that the teams have faced each other on Opening Night; the teams played a 2-2 tie at MSG on October 3, 1997.  All-time, the Isles are 11-21-11 in 43 previous openers, including 2-0-1 in their last 3.  The Isles are 11-23-9 in their first road game of the season, but have won each of their last two opening nights played on the road (2013 in New Jersey, 2014 in Carolina)

The Isles will then head to DC to face the Capitals in Washington's home opener on Saturday, October 15th.

The Isles will begin their second season in Brooklyn on Sunday, October 16th as they face the Anaheim Ducks. It will be the first time that the Isles have faced Anaheim in a home opener.  The Isles are 25-12-6 all-time in home openers (0-0-1 at Barclays Center) and are 1-0-0 in Sunday home openers, defeating Colorado 4-2 in a 1999 matinee.  However, the Isles are only 1-2-4 in seven home openers in the Tavares era.

With the NHL starting about a week later than normal due to the World Cup of Hockey, the Isles will open on October 13th for only the second time in their history; on October 13, 1977, Mike Bossy made his NHL debut in a 3-2 loss in Buffalo.  That matches the latest opener for a full season in club history.

The October 16th home opener extends an Islander streak of home openers on either Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  The last midweek opener was on Thursday, October 16, 1986 vs. Washington; the Isles defeated the Caps 7-4.  Six months later the Isles would need 7 periods to win their 4th game of the series against Washington, winning the Easter Epic.

That 1986 game is one of two previous October 16th home openers; the Isles also opened at home on October 16, 1993 (a 6-3 loss to New Jersey).  Ironically, like this fall that was also the regular season opener following a playoff series win.

It's the first time in a decade that the Isles will open the season with a multi-game road trip.  In 2006, the Isles opened in Phoenix as part of a four game trip before making it home to face Boston.

The remainder of the 2016-17 regular season schedule will be released at 1pm on Tuesday.

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