PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators will open the 2000-01 NHL season with a two-game series Oct. 7-8 in Tokyo.

Several Penguins, including NHL scoring leader Jaromir Jagr, played for the gold medal-winning Czech Republic team in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

Last season, the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks opened the season in Japan. Anaheim and Vancouver played there to start the 1997-98 season.

The games will be played at Saitama Arena, a new arena that is scheduled to open next fall about a half-hour from downtown Tokyo.

The series will mark the first time that Eastern Conference teams will play in Japan, with Jagr no doubt the prime attraction. He received more votes for the NHL All-Star game than any player in history.

Eight Penguins played in the 1998 Winter Olympics, including Martin Straka, Alexei Kovalev, Aleksey Morozov, Robert Lang and Darius Kasparaitis, and coach Herb Brooks coached the French Olympic team.

Each team will lose one home game by making the trip. It is expected the NHL will give the teams nearly a week off after returning from Japan to get reaccustomed to the time difference. Flights from the East Coast to Japan normally last about 14 hours.

The Penguins also will unveil a new alternate jersey during a news conference Wednesday.