The highly anticipated NHL 2023-24 season opening night is set to take place on Tuesday, October 10. The opening night of the new season is jam-packed with some intriguing fixtures that will keep fans glued to their seats until the final buzzer.
The NHL opening night has produced some incredible team performances, individual brilliance and dramatic comebacks over the years and teams have demonstrated that they are capable of going deep into the season, even on the first night of the long season calendar.
On that note, here we look at the best five opening night games in NHL history.
Note: The following list is entirely subjective and may vary for different readers.
Here is a look at the five best opening night games in NHL history:
#5 New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres
On the opening night of the 2010 season, the Rangers were up against the Sabres. It was also the night of centerman Derek Stepan’s debut, which later turned out to be one of the best in Rangers history.
Stepan’s stellar performance in the game earned him a hat-trick in his debut, helping New York to defeat the Sabres 6-3. The centerman’s hat-trick was also the first in the history of the Rangers on opening night in 55 years.
#4 LA Kings v Pittsburgh Penguins
On October 10, 2003, the opening night game between the Kings and Penguins featured an incredible showdown from the 2003 No.1 pick and future Hall of Famer, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Regardless of the Penguins’ 3-0 loss to the Kings on the night, goaltender Fleury made a remarkable comeback in his debut game, ending the night with 46 saves on 48 shots after conceding an early goal.
#3 Vancouver Canucks v St.Louis Blues
Fans during the opening night fixture between the Canucks and Blues on October 8, 1987, witnessed a high-scoring fixture between the two teams. It was also a memorable night for the wingman Greg Adams, who was acquired from the New Jersey Devils.
Adams in his NHL debut slotted the puck back into the net four times and propelled the Canucks to an outstanding 8-2 victory over the Blues.
#2 LA Kings v Winnipeg Jets
Hockey Hall of Famer Jari Kurri joined his former teammate Wayne Gretzky at the LA Kings in 1991. Kurri made his LA Kings debut on the opening night fixture against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct.4.
Kurri made an instant impact in his LA debut, scoring a hat-trick to help his side to a 6-3 win over the Jets on the opening night.
#1 Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche
The opening night fixture between the Wild and Avalanche held on Oct.8, 2015, is one of the greatest openers with a remarkable comeback in NHL history.
With less than 15 minutes remaining in the third period, the Wild were already down by three goals (4-1). Wingman Zach Parise finished his hat-trick in the third period, scoring two goals to cut the deficit to one (4-3).
Two goals from Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter later in the period sealed the Wild’s remarkable comeback (5-4) victory over the Avalanche.