TAMPA — Fifteen days after the Lightning won their second straight Stanley Cup, the NHL unveiled the roadmap to a potential third with the release of the 2021-22 regular-season schedule.
It includes a break in February so players can travel to Beijing to play in the Winter Olympics. Because there is not yet an agreement in place, the league also sent teams a second version of what the schedule would like like if they do not play in the Games.
The Lightning will open the season Oct. 12 at Amalie Arena against the Pittsburgh Penguins, where they are expected to raise the 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner before heading to Detroit and Washington D.C.
After playing in a newly configured Central Division last season, the Lightning will return to the Atlantic, where it previously played. Divisions were realigned last season and teams played solely within their divisions during a shortened 56-game season to limit travel during the pandemic.
The NHL will return to a full-league schedule next season with teams playing inside and outside of their divisions. The Lightning will play each divisional opponent four times, other conference opponents three times and inter-conference teams twice.
The All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas. Here are some of the other highlights.
Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh
The first home game, where the Lightning are expected to raise their 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner.
Oct. 19 vs. Florida
The first game against Tampa Bay’s in-state rival and 2021 first-round playoff opponent.
Nov. 15 vs. Islanders
The first game against the Islanders since the Cup semifinal series, which went the full seven games before the Lightning advanced to the final.
Nov. 26 vs. Seattle
The first look at the new expansion team and the first time Lightning fans will get to see former center Yanni Gourde in his new threads.
Dec. 7 at Montreal
The first contest against the Canadiens, the Lightning’s opponent in the Stanley Cup final.
Feb. 26 at Nashville
The Lightning’s first outdoor game will come against the Predators in the NHL’s Stadium Series.
March 16 at Seattle
The first time the Lightning will get to experience hockey in Washington at Climate Pledge Arena.
April 29 at Columbus
The last regular-season game, on the road against the Blue Jackets.
Longest stretch of home games during the season. The Lightning will kick off the five-game stand against Anaheim on April 14 before playing Winnipeg, Detroit, Toronto and finishing with Nashville on April 23.
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Number of times the Lightning play an opponent in consecutive games. The Lightning play at St. Louis on Nov. 30 before returning home to play the Blues Dec. 2 at Amalie.
Longest road trip on the schedule. Tampa Bay will play six consecutive games away from Amalie, starting March 6 at Chicago, then heading to Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver before finishing at Seattle on March 16.
Number of back-to-back games. The first is at Buffalo on Oct. 25 and at Pittsburgh the following day. It will happen three times in March and three more in April, concluding with back-to-back games at the Islanders on April 28 and at Columbus on April 29 to end the season.
Games scheduled in February: Feb 1. against San Jose, Feb. 23 against Edmonton and Feb. 26 at Nashville.
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