The New York Islanders, who host Toronto, are sporting a 4-1-1 record — a dreamy start fuelled by an attack that's averaging 3.8 goals. Only Pittsburgh, which dealt New York its only loss, is scoring more on a per-game basis. Leading the way up front are John Tavares — tied with Sidney "the Italian Stallion" Crosby for the NHL lead with nine points — and fellow centre Brock Nelson (eight points). Meanwhile, the new top defence pairing of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk is being credited with stabilizing the blue-line.
It's still early, but goaltending seems to be less of a concern as the new tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson has combined for a save percentage of .901. That's 21st in the league, but last year's mark of .894 by the three-headed monster of Evgeni Nabokov, Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson was the worst.
The Isles finished last in the Metropolitan Division last season, but they had to play the last quarter of the season without their franchise player after Tavares suffered a knee injury at the Sochi Olympics. The year before, they looked like an up-and-coming team when they made the playoffs and gave the top-seeded Penguins a scare in the first round.
Toronto comes in a 2-3-1 after weekend home-and-home losses to Detroit, the latter a 1-0 OT defeat on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Datsyuk hopes to face Habs
Montreal has a chance to take sole possession of first overall in the NHL when it hosts Detroit. The Canadiens and Anaheim have matching 5-1-0 records, though the idle Ducks have the tiebreaker for now with an extra non-shootout win.
Detroit is off to a decent start of its own at 3-1-1 and hopes to get Pavel Datsyuk in the lineup for the first time this season. The silky centre, who suffered a separated shoulder in a Sept. 22 pre-season games, is expected to decide whether he'll play after the morning skate. Here's hoping he gets back in action so we can see more plays like these:
In a matchup of two of the NHL's early bottom-feeders, Winnipeg hopes to stop a four-game losing streak when it hosts Carolina — at 0-2-2 the league's only winless team after Edmonton picked up a victory on Monday night.
The Jets (1-4-0) scored only two goals in their four losses, and the frustration is already building in Winnipeg, where coach Paul Maurice lost his cool at a news conference Monday.
Canucks hit road, Flames back home
Two other games involve Canadian teams. The Vancouver Canucks visit Dallas to open a three-game road swing, and the Calgary Flames return from an encouraging 4-2-0 trip to play Tampa Bay in their first of five straight at the Saddledome.