It had been 58 years since Ottawa played a regular-season NHL game, so the fans that packed Ottawa's Civic Centre to watch their expansion Senators against the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night did not complain about waiting more than three hours for an outcome.
Doug Smail scored a pair of goals, the last into an empty net with 15 seconds left, to give the Senators a 5-3 victory.
"I had goose bumps on me," Ottawa's Sylvain Turgeon said of the pregame ceremony that featured the raising of nine banners commemorating Stanley Cup victories of a bygone era. "Those flags going up, the national anthem. . . . The religion is there."
The game continued a new era of expansion for the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning also entered the league on a winning note, beating Chicago, 7-3, Wednesday night.
Neil Brady, Ken Hammond and Turgeon also scored goals for the Senators.
"Beating the Montreal Canadiens, at home, in your first NHL game--it doesn't get any better than this," said Randy Sexton, the Senators' chief executive officer.
Mike Keane, Vincent Damphousse and Brian Bellows scored for the Canadiens.
Pittsburgh 7, N.Y. Islanders 3--Mario Lemieux scored twice during the third period at Pittsburgh and recorded his 24th five-point game for the Penguins.
Jaromir Jagr of the Penguins broke a 2-2 tie at 2:20 of the third period, slipping behind defensemen Darius Kasparaitis and Tom Kurvers, and beating Mark Fitzpatrick.
Lemieux got his first goal at 8:38, picking up a loose puck behind the net, circling and scoring on a wraparound. Lemieux scored again at 11:44.
Boston 3, Hartford 2--Joe Juneau scored the game-winning goal with 2:44 left in overtime as the Bruins won their season opener at Boston.
Juneau flicked a shot over the glove of Sean Burke, who appeared to have been partially screened by Dmitri Kvartalnov.
Burke kept the Whalers in the game for the first two periods. He stopped 22 shots in the first period and 41 shots in regulation time.
Quebec 5, Buffalo 4--Mike Ricci, obtained in the trade with Philadelphia for Eric Lindros, broke a 4-4 tie in the third period to give the Nordiques the victory at Buffalo.
Ricci, who had 20 goals last year with the Flyers, was left alone in front and took a pass from Bill Lindsay before beating goalie Dominik Hasek at 11:19.
Joe Sakic had two goals for Quebec, and the Nordiques also got goals from Mats Sundin and Steve Duchesne, another of the six players they received for Lindros.
Minnesota 5, St. Louis 2--Russ Courtnall and Gaetan Duchesne scored short-handed goals 17 seconds apart in the second period at Bloomington, Minn., as the North Stars avenged an opening-night loss to the Blues.
Jon Casey made 31 saves as the Stars held Brett Hull, who scored nine goals in his last nine games against them, scoreless on four shots.
Calgary 7, Edmonton 2--The Flames scored three power-play goals during a 1:19 span of the third period at Calgary to give Coach Dave King his first NHL victory.
Al MacInnis had a goal and three assists for the Flames. Gary Roberts scored two goals.
San Jose 4, Winnipeg 3--Kelly Kisio's scored four minutes into overtime at San Jose to give the Sharks the victory.
Jayson More's goal at 11:25 in the third tied the game for San Jose as the Sharks outshot Winnipeg, 18-7, in the third period.