A break for the Beijing Winter Olympics was included in the NHL's 2021-2022 schedule released Thursday despite no deal being in place for NHL talent to take part.
And the NHL warned that it would unveil a revamped schedule wiping out the February 7-22 pause if talks fall through on taking the ice in China.
Reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay will play host to Pittsburgh on October 12 in the first game of the new season.
The Lightning, the 2020 and 2021 NHL Cup winners, will unveil their championship banner at Amelie Arena before the only other opening night contest, which sees the Vegas Golden Knights entertain the NHL's 32nd club, the expansion Seattle Kraken.
The NHL's 1,312-game schedule features 82 contests for each team and a return to divisional lineups used before Covid-19 forced the Canadian teams into a group of their own for the 2020-21 campaign.
Vegas will host the NHL All-Star Game on February 5 just before the Olympic break.
The NHL, NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation remain in negotiations on several topics including Covid-19 insurance.
The league noted it retains the right to decide not to take part in the Beijing Winter Olympics if Covid-19 conditions worsen or situations pose a health and safety threat to players.
If NHL players don't participate, the league's revised schedule will keep as much of the schedule announced Thursday as possible, the NHL said.
Should NHL players take the ice in China, the league season would resume February 23 and conclude April 29.
Last year, teams played only 56 games and within their divisions in a Covid-19 safety move as well as allowing for tightened travel regulations across the US-Canada border.
Each team will play every other club at least twice. They will face division rivals three or four times, three games against the rival division in its conference and two games each against clubs from the opposite conference.
Arizona will move from the Pacific to the Central division to make room in the far western group for Seattle.
The Kraken play five games on the road before making their home debut in Seattle on October 23 against Vancouver.
The New York Islanders open their season with 13 consecutive road games before the opening of their new arena against the Calgary Flames on November 20.
The first rematch of this month's Stanley Cup Final will be staged December 7 when the Lightning visit Montreal.
The schedule features two outdoor games, with the Minnesota Wild hosting St. Louis on January 1, 2022 in the Winter Classic at Minneapolis in the home ballpark of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins.
It had been planned for New Year's Day 2021 before Covid-19 forced changes in the season schedule.
The Lightning will visit the Nashville Predators on February 26, 2022, in the NHL Stadium Series contest at the home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.