The Florida Panthers open their 20th anniversary season on Oct. 3 in Dallas against Stars, one of four straight games on the road to begin the season, as NHL schedules were released Friday.
Panthers fans will get a blast from the past when the team plays its home opener on Oct. 11. The opponent: the Pittsburgh Penguins. That game is nearly 20 years to the day from when Florida played its first game in South Florida (Oct. 12, 1993), when the opponent was also the visiting Penguins.
Florida will play 30 games against its seven division foes in the realigned NHL; as part of the eight-team Atlantic Division, the Panthers will play the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins five times each and will face off four times each against the other five division teams (Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs).
The NHL will take a break for the Winter Olympics from Feb. 7-27, which gives the team a bit of a respite before March, its busiest month of the season. The Panthers will play eight home games and nine road contests — including three sets of back-to-back games — during the month.
The Panthers play 12 games in October, 15 in November, 14 in December, 13 in January, five in Febuary, 17 in March and six in April.