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Pens welcome Toronto for home opener

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 4:18 p.m.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Tyler Kennedy is playfully checked into the boards by teammate James Neal (18) during a player organized informal NHL hockey workout at the Consol Energy Center, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. (AP)

The Penguins will open the shortened NHL season with four of their first five games on the road, sources told the Tribune-Review on Friday.

Their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 23 comes between a pair of two-game road trips.

The first will take them to Philadelphia (Jan. 19) and the New York Rangers (Jan. 20). The team then heads to Winnipeg (Jan. 25) and Ottawa (Jan. 27), sources said.

The NHL schedule was to be finalized Friday and released Saturday after ratification of the labor contract. Last-minute schedule changes still are possible.

NHL owners approved the labor contract Wednesday, and the Players' Association vote is expected to wrap Saturday.

The Penguins will play 18 games against Atlantic Division opponents: five each against the Rangers and New York Islanders and four apiece against the Flyers and New Jersey Devils, sources said.

The Penguins will play an unbalanced schedule (18 games) against division opponents and three games apiece against the 10 remaining Eastern Conference clubs, sources said.

The Penguins will play three home games against the Islanders and three games at the Rangers, and two games at home against both the Flyers and Devils.

Sources said the Penguins will play two out-of-division home games each against Boston, Buffalo, Montreal, Tampa Bay, and Washington.

­— Rob Rossi

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