* The opening night of the 2020-21 NHL season drew record-breaking viewership both stateside and north of the 49th parallel.
* Connor McDavid scored the first hat trick of 2020-21 while reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Leon Draisaitl had four assists on another high-scoring night in the NHL.
* Tim Stützle, who turns 19 today, is expected to make his NHL debut in this season’s first ‘Battle of Ontario’ game as Ottawa becomes the final Canadian team to hit the ice in 2020-21.
OPENING NIGHT OF 2020-21 SEASON DRAWS RECORD VIEWERSHIP
Wednesday’s opening night of the 2020-21 season saw record viewership in Canada and the United States.
* The debut of the first All-Canadian division in NHL history opened with two games on Sportsnet with overall coverage reaching 6.6 million viewers – marking the most-watched NHL Opening Night in Sportsnet history.
* The first of 10 games in 2020-21 between Original Six rivals Toronto and Montreal drew 2.1 million viewers on Sportsnet – the most-watched regular-season game ever aired exclusively on the network – and an additional 919,000 on TVA Sports. Combined across the English and French Networks, the game posted 3.057 million viewers (up 83% from last year’s Ottawa/Toronto game).
* The opening game of the season between the Penguins and Flyers averaged 972,000 viewers on NBCSN in the United States, making it the network’s most-watched regular-season game on record. In total, the three games on the network averaged 774,000 viewers to mark the network’s most-watched multi-game Opening night on record (up 29% from last year’s doubleheader).
McDAVID HAT TRICK HEADLINES HIGH-SCORING CANADIAN AFFAIRS. . .
The first four games of the Scotia North Division have produced 31 goals – at least seven in each contest – following star-studded performances Thursday in both Edmonton and Winnipeg. Last season’s top two scorers Leon Draisaitl (0-4—4) and Connor McDavid (3-1—4) sparked the Oilers offense in the second half of their back-to-back against the Canucks, while Jets forwards Patrik Laine (2-1—3), Kyle Connor (1-2—3) and Mark Scheifele outscored the Flames trio of Elias Lindholm (1-1—2), Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau in their season opener.
* McDavid, who scored the first hat trick of the 2020-21 season and the seventh of his NHL career, posted his 13th career regular-season game with four or more points – the second-most in the NHL since he entered the League in 2015-16 (Nikita Kucherov: 15).
* Scheifele (6-3—9 in 8 GP) extended his point streak in season-opening games to eight contests dating to 2013-14, the NHL’s longest active run.
* Laine, who entered the League in 2016-17, recorded his 23rd multi-goal game in the regular season, trailing Alex Ovechkin (37), Auston Matthews (30), David Pastrnak (26), Jack Eichel (25), Patrick Kane (24), Kucherov (24) and Draisaitl (24) for the most over that span.
. . . SENATORS SET TO JOIN ALL-CANADIAN PARTY ON STÜTZLE’S BIRTHDAY
The Senators will become the last Canadian team to hit the ice this season in what is anticipated to be the NHL debut of Tim Stützle, the No. 3 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. Should he play tonight against the Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET on RDS, TSN4, TSN5), Stützle would get his first taste of the ‘Battle of Ontario’ while celebrating his 19th birthday.
* Stützle can become the fourth teenager in NHL history to make his League debut on his birthday – Alfie Turcotte (Jan. 5, 1984), Stephen Weiss (April 3, 2002) and Seth Jones (Oct. 3, 2013) all did so on their 19th birthday. Overall, 18 players have made their NHL debut on their birthday at any age, with Yanni Gourde the last to do so (Dec. 15, 2015, age 24 w/ TBL).
* Stützle was one of three German-born players selected among the top 35 in the 2020 NHL Draft (also Lukas Reichel, CHI & John-Jason Peterka, BUF), following a 2019-20 campaign that saw Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (Cologne) become the first German-born player to win either the Art Ross Trophy or Hart Memorial Trophy. Earlier this month, Stützle claimed Best Forward and was named to the tournament all-star team at the World Junior Championship (5-5—10 in 5 GP).
VARLAMOV, ISLANDERS STIFLE RANGERS IN LAFRENIERE’S DEBUT
Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal each scored to help the Islanders build a 3-0 first-period lead and Semyon Varlamov (24 saves) became the second goaltender in franchise history to post a shutout in the team’s season opener as the club spoiled the NHL debut of Rangers No. 1 pick Alexis Lafreniere.
* Barry Trotz earned his 11th season opening win, trailing only Scotty Bowman (17), Dick Irvin (12) and Ken Hitchcock (12) for the most in NHL history among head coaches.
CAPITALS EXTEND TEAM, PLAYER STREAKS IN SEASON OPENERS
T.J. Oshie (1-2—3), Nicklas Backstrom (1-1—2), John Carlson (1-1—2) and Alex Ovechkin (0-2—2) each had multiple points as the Capitals improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven season-opening games, tied with the Lightning (7-0-0) and Canadiens (4-0-3) for the longest active streak in the NHL.
* Carlson, who led NHL defensemen in scoring last season (15-60—75 in 69 GP), has had multiple points in each of Washington’s last three openers dating to 2018-19.
* Backstrom has 15 assists in season-opening games (1-15—16 in 13 GP), the highest such total among active NHL players. Ovechkin has 20 career points in 16 season openers (11-9—20), also the highest such total among current NHL players.
THE BEST OF THE WEST
San Jose won its first game since March 3, 2020 (5-2 W vs. TOR) – despite surrendering a tying goal with 3.2 seconds remaining in the third period – while Honda West Division foes Vegas and Minnesota defeated Anaheim and Los Angeles, respectively, who also played for the first time in 10 months:
* Sharks forwards Tomas Hertl (2-1—3) and Evander Kane (1-2—3) became the fifth and sixth San Jose players to record three or more points in a season-opening game.
* One day after being minted the first captain in franchise history, Mark Stone (1-1—2) led Vegas to victory as he scored the game-winning goal 49 seconds into the third period. Stone, who was acquired on Feb. 25, 2019, has the most points by any Golden Knights player since he joined the team with 27-49—76 in 84 games.
* After the Wild erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period, rookie Kirill Kaprisov (1-2—3) scored in overtime to become the first player in franchise history to record at least three points in his NHL debut. He also became the third player in League history to score an overtime goal in his first NHL game, joining Nick Knott of the Brooklyn Americans in 1941-42 and Tim Sweeney of the Calgary Flames in 1990-91.
FRIDAY TO FEATURE FOUR REMATCHES FROM FIRST TWO DAYS OF SEASON
Four rematches from the first two days of the NHL season are slated for tonight:
* Taylor Hall, who posted 1-1—2 in his team debut Thursday, can become the first Sabres player to score at least one goal in each of his first two games with the franchise since Jochen Hecht from Oct. 10-12, 2002 (2-0—2).
* Joel Farabee had 1-3—4 in the Flyers’ opener and needs only two points to match Bobby Clarke for the most points by a Philadelphia player through his first two games of a season (2-4—6 in 1975-76 and 1-5—6 in 1977-78).
* The unique format of the 2020-21 schedule is set to make the Lightning the second defending Stanley Cup champion in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to open a season with consecutive games against the same opponent (CHI). The first such instance came in 2007-08 when the Ducks started 1-1-0 against the Kings.
* Kyle Clifford can become the first St. Louis player since Vladimir Tarasenko in 2012-13 (3-2—5 in 2 GP) to score at least one goal in each of his first two games with the franchise.