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NHL season starts tonight; Panthers will wait until Sunday

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56-game sprint begins with five Wednesday tilts

Chicago Blackhawks v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images

The 2020-21 NHL season starts this evening with five games on tap for hockey-starved fans across North America.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will visit the Philadelphia Flyers to kick off the proceedings with an early 5:30 p.m. start with NBCSN handling the broadcast as part of its opening-night, triple-header.

The Florida Panthers will not play until Sunday due to the outbreak of covid-19 among the Dallas Stars.

Florida first opponent will now be the Chicago Blackhawks, who will get in two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, including tonight’s 8 p.m. tilt which is also on NBCSN, before they meet the Cats for a pair.

The late NBCSN game is a 10:30 p.m. meeting between the St. Louis Blues and host Colorado Avalanche.

There are also two north of the border games involving the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers.

Since the Panthers found themselves with some extra practice time this week, the club held another scrimmage yesterday at the BB&T Center that ended with Team Red scoring a 5-2 decision over Team Blue.

The score was actually tied 2-2 after regulation with Red going on to score three times in the 5-minute, three-on-three overtime period.

Both Sam Montembeault and Chris Driedger had strong games in net. Philippe Desrosier subbed in for Montembeault in overtime and surrendered three goals. Seems a bit unfair, but at least he got some action.

Goal-scorers in regulation were Red’s Riley Stillmdan (penalty shot) and Frank Vatrano. Blue definitely got a goal from Anthony Duclair and the other might have went to Noel Acciari on a deflection.

Radko Gudas scored the winner in overtime and Stillman and Vatrano both tallied again in the extra session.

Gudas’ goal was a thing of beauty, with the assists going to Vatrano and Alexander Wennberg.