NHL Outdoors Preview February 20, 2021
VEGAS, COLORADO SET TO TAKE THINGS OUTSIDE FOR THIRD STRAIGHT MEETING
The Golden Knights will become the 26th franchise to participate in an NHL regular-season outdoor game when they face the Avalanche in the open air, lakeside at Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev., 3 pm EST today. The first of two games in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe series will mark the third of four straight meetings between the teams, following a Vegas victory Sunday and Colorado triumph Tuesday.
Colorado will become the fifth team to play in an NHL outdoor game in consecutive seasons as the club eyes its first outdoor victory. The Avalanche lost 3-1 to the Kings in their last such contest, just over a year ago in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs. Current Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez played for Los Angeles in that game, his last before being traded to the Golden Knights.
The Avalanche, who own an all-time home record of 3-0-0 against Vegas (0-2-1), will serve as hosts Saturday in a game that will be played at 6,224 feet above sea level – the second highest for an NHL regular-season outdoor game behind the 2020 Stadium Series (6,621 feet).
Half of the 10-prior regular-season meetings between Vegas and Colorado – plus their lone meeting in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers – have been decided by a one-goal margin, including both contests in 2020-21. To date, 12 of 30 NHL outdoor games have been one-goal decisions (40.0%); an additional five have been a multi-goal margin following an empty-net goal.
While Vegas and Colorado have been separated by only one goal in each of their past three overall meetings, each club has a history of decisive victories in the head-to-head series. The Golden Knights celebrated Nevada Day in 2017 with a 7-0 win in their first-ever game against the Avalanche. More recently, Colorado outscored Vegas 13-4 in its two regular-season meetings in 2019-20, with Avalanche forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare pacing all players with 3-2—5 against his former club.
SATURDAY EXPECTED TO FEATURE SIDNEY CROSBY’S 1,000TH NHL GAME
Sidney Crosby is expected to become the first player to skate 1,000-career regular-season games with the Penguins when they take on the Islanders today – the club whom Crosby has his highest career assists and points against (37-79—116 in 70 GP; 1.66 P/GP).
Crosby (468-808—1,276 in 999 GP) will enter his milestone game already ranking eighth all-time in terms of points through 1,000 career games, with a chance to climb higher. He already is one of five players in NHL history with at least 800 assists through 1,000 career games, behind Wayne Gretzky (1,516), Paul Coffey (910), Adam Oates (860) and Bryan Trottier (817).
PANTHERS, HURRICANES SKATE TO WINS IN HIGH-SCORING AFFAIRS
The Panthers (11-2-2, 24 points) and Hurricanes (11-3-1, 23 points) benefited from seven- and five-goal performances, respectively, to collect two points. Florida (.800) and Carolina (.767) hold the highest and third-highest points percentage in the NHL’s overall standings.
The Panthers, who have outscored their opponents 17-9 over their three-game win streak, own the League’s highest points percentage through their first 15 games of a season for the second time in franchise history. The other: 1996-97 (10-1-4, 24 points; .800).
Florida, which began the contest with a four-goal first period, netted at least six goals in a game for the second time in 2020-21 (also Feb. 15) – trailing only Dallas (3 GP) and Winnipeg (3 GP) for the most among all clubs this season (excluding shootout-deciding goals).
Carolina notched its fourth outing with five-plus goals in 2020-21 and improved to 11-3-1 (23 points). Only one campaign in Hurricanes/Whalers history has witnessed the club collect more wins through the first 15 games – 2005-06 (12-2-1, 25 points), en route to the franchise’s first and only Stanley Cup.
Nino Niederreiter (2-1—3) recorded his first three-point game of the season, while netting his team-leading ninth goal of 2020-21 (9-2—11 in 15 GP). Niederreiter became the fifth different Hurricanes player to record three or more points in a game this season – trailing Winnipeg (9), Philadelphia (8), Toronto (8) and Dallas (7) for the most among all clubs.