The 2021 NHL season is finally upon us! The season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s finally getting underway on Wednesday, January 13th. The first night gives us the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning dropping the puck on their title defense and the favored Colorado Avalanche opening their campaign to claim a third Stanley Cup.
NBC Sports Network is airing a tripleheader to open the season. You can view all three games via live online stream at NBCSports.com/live. The two games on Sportsnet are available on a separate live stream with a subscription.
How and what to watch on opening night
Penguins @ Flyers, 5:30 p.m., NBCSN, Sportsnet 1
The Penguins and Flyers don’t enjoy each other’s company too much, and that should be a physical battle to open up the season. Sidney Crosby is probably overjoyed he won’t hear the things he’s normally called from the Flyer Faithful. Some of it goes beyond Rated R and involves most of his close relatives.
Canadiens @ Maple Leafs, 7 p.m., Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Canada opens hockey at 7 p.m., as the Canadiens and Maple Leafs do battle in the new Scotia North Division (ugh). Toronto is the favorite to come out of the Great White North and compete for the Stanley Cup this season, with Joe Thornton playing his first game outside of San Jose or Boston ever in a 23-year career.
Blackhawks @ Lightning, 8 p.m., NBCSN
Chicago faces the champs in the Bolts at 8 p.m., but the team won’t be raising the banner until fans are allowed back in Amalie Arena. The Lightning lost star winger and power play genius Nikita Kucherov to hip surgery for at least the regular season, but get back captain Steven Stamkos. Stamkos last shift in an NHL game ended with the most memorable goal of the 2020 season.
Canucks @ Oilers, 10 p.m., Sportsnet, Sportsnet 1, TVA Sports 2
Vancouver and Edmonton do battle at 10 p.m., and Connor McDavid is still incredible but has no teammates worthy of his skill. And the Canucks are still bumbling their way in front of a passionate fan base that deserves better. Braden Holtby likely isn’t leading them to a deep run this season, though Elias Pettersson is an elite player on their first line.
Blues @ Avalanche, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, Altitude Sports
And in the nightcap you can see the preseason favorites in the Colorado Avalanche against the St. Louis Blues. The Large Mountainous Snowdrifts have a loaded roster of non-superstars, play gorgeous hockey, and are so young they should compete for years to come. Nathan MacKinnon might be the best player without a national marketing deal, and Cale Makar is a Norris Trophy candidate at 21 years old. They are worth staying up to watch.