NHL seasons opens Oct. 7 with games on two continents and three countries

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - It will be hockey night in Helsinki as the NHL opens its 2010-2011 season on two continents and three countries Oct. 7.

The Carolina Hurricanes will face the Minnesota Wild in Finland to kick off the season, the league announced Tuesday.

Back in North America, the Chicago Blackhawks begin defence of their Stanley Cup championship on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. On the same night the Pittsburgh Penguins throw open the doors of their new home, the 18,087-seat Consol Energy Centre, with a game against the Stanley Cup finalist Philadelphia Flyers.

Opening night will also see some old rivalries renewed in Canada as the Montreal Canadiens travel to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs while the Edmonton Oilers host the Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta.

The Ottawa Senators begin their 18th season at home against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 8.

The Vancouver Canucks open their 40th season on Oct. 9 at GM Place against the Los Angeles Kings. It will be a rematch of Vancouver's first league game Oct. 9, 1970, against the Kings at the old Pacific Coliseum.

The Blackhawks raise their Stanley Cup banner at home Oct. 9 against Detroit.

The Flames' first home game will be Oct. 10 against L.A. while the puck drops in Montreal on Oct. 13 when the Canadiens host Tampa Bay.

The 2010-11 schedule will also see the return of an outdoor Heritage Classic game in Canada. The NHL confirmed Tuesday that Calgary will host Montreal at 35,650-seat McMahon Stadium on Feb. 20. The proposed game had already been approved by the NHL's compition committee.

The 1,230-game season ends April 10, 2011. The playoffs open April 13.

A record six teams will begin their season in Europe.

Besides Carolina and Minnesota, the San Jose Sharks play back-to-back games against the Columbus Blue Jackets beginning Oct. 8 in Stockholm, Sweden. It will be Scott Arniel's first games as the Blue Jackets' coach.

The Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes begin a two-game series Oct. 9 in Prague, Czech Republic.

The New Years Day game will see the Washington Capitals play the Penguins at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. The 58th NHL all-star game will be Jan. 30 in Raleigh, N.C.

And on Jan. 23, Philadelphia travels to Chicago in a Stanley Cup final rematch.

Hockey Day in Canada on Feb. 12 will see Ottawa in Edmonton, Toronto at Montreal and Vancouver host Calgary.

The busiest day of the schedule is Oct. 30 with 14 games played.

Toronto's schedule includes 23 games on Saturday nights with 14 of those at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs' busiest month will be March when the team plays 15 times, eight of those on the road.

The Canucks will play 15 back-to-back series and 25 weekend games.

Ottawa's busiest month will be December with eight of 14 games at Scotiabank Place.

In some other games of note, goaltender Jaroslav Halak will play his first game in Montreal since being traded to St. Louis on March 10.

John MacLean makes his regular-season debut as coach in New Jersey, and Jason Arnott will mark his return to the club, Oct. 8 when the Devils host the Dallas Stars.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, with Steve Yzerman as the team's new general manager, have the season's longest homestand consisting of 12 games from Jan. 23 to Feb. 25. The Los Angeles have the longest road trip, playing 10 games between from Feb. 1 and Feb. 23.

The NHL schedule sees a team plays six games against each squad in its division (24 games), four games against the non-division clubs within its conference (40 games) plus 18 non-conference games.

Those non-conference games include at least one game against each club in the other conference (15 games) and three other games against select teams.

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