Hurricanes to open the 2021-22 season with home game against Islanders

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It’s back to Metropolitan Division and back to an 82-game regular season — hopefully — for the Carolina Hurricanes.

The NHL announced the 2021-22 schedule Thursday night during ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” The Canes will open the regular season at home on Thursday, Oct. 14, against the New York Islanders — the same day the N.C. State Fair opens.

There will be no long homestand for the Canes this season. There will be four sets of four home games, the first from Oct. 25-31.

The Canes were knocked out of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, which then made it back-to-back Cup titles. The two teams will face off three times this season — playing in Tampa on Nov. 9 and March 29, and the Canes hosting the Lightning once on March 22.

The Canes will make a November trip to Seattle to face the Kraken, the NHL’s newly minted team. After the Nov. 24 game, the Kraken will come to PNC Arena for the first time on March 6.

The schedule will have a prolonged break in February. The NHL All-Star Weekend will be held Feb. 4-5 in Las Vegas, followed by an Olympic break from Feb. 7-22.

The NHL, with continuing concerns about the pandemic, played a 56-game regular-season schedule in 2020-22. The Canes were placed in the new Central Division and claimed the divisional title, their first since 2006, in finishing with a 36-12-8 record and 80 points.

But it’s back to the Metro. It’s back to playing the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and others in the division. It’s also back to lining up games against every team in the league after being confined to playing only divisional opponents last season.

While coaches and players appeared to enjoy one facet of the 2020-21 schedule, playing several two-game sets against teams on the road, that will not be continued.

The Canes, however, will play 14 sets of traditional back-to-back games — the first set Oct. 28-29 against Boston and Chicago at PNC Arena.

If the Canes are contending for a playoff spot late in the season, the schedule might not be favorable. Carolina plays four the last five games — and six of the last eight — on the road, ending the regular season in Pittsburgh on April 29.

The Canes earlier announced a four-game preseason schedule, playing two games each against the Lightning and Nashville Predators.

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