After a successful home opening win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Rangers look to carry momentum into Ottawa where they’ll look for their first road win of the season (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
“Obviously to get a win on our home opener is big,” Staal said. “There’s things we need to work on and be better at, but it’s a good start and we’ll just keep building from here.”
Thursday’s home opener was a wild game that had fans at the edge of their seats all night. The Blueshirts offense was electric scoring five goals (plus an empty net) in the opener. Despite seeing the lead slip away three times throughout the game, the Rangers were relentless and found a late winning goal with just over four minutes left. Marc Staal opened the scoring on a wrap around to send the Garden into a frenzy. Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba each made an immediate impact in their first game with the Rangers getting on the scoresheet in the second period. Mika Zibaenjad tied the game in the third, before Brett Howden picked up a loose puck and buried the winner. Brendan Smith gave the Rangers insurance by tacking on an empty net goal.
After the game, head coach David Quinn was asked “Does an Opening Night win feel more special than the others?” Quinn responded “As I stand here in front of you, yes. It feels pretty good right now.”
Henrik Lundqvist earned the victory and picked up his 450th career win. Lundqvist is just four wins short of tying Curtis Joseph for fifth on the all-time win list. After the game, the 37-year-old spoke about the game.
“It felt like an Opening Night – a little crazy, back and forth, a lot of emotions, great atmosphere in the building,” Lundqvist said. It was a lot of fun.”
While opening night was a night to remember, the Rangers must move on and focus on the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa is in the midst of the rebuild and were defeated 5-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in their season opener. Ottawa’s biggest offseason acquisition was acquiring Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown in a trade with the Leafs. They also gave 22-year-old defender Thomas Chabot an eight-year contract worth $64 million dollars.
Long time netminder Craig Anderson is expected to get the start in the Senators home opener. Anderson has been with the Senators since 2010 and has a career save percentage of .913.
Alex Georgiev will make his first start of the season. Georgiev opened many eyes last season and earned 30 starts last season. He finished the year with a .914 save percentage. This will mark the first time the Bulgarian born netminder will face the Senators. Quinn said the decision to start Georgiev was not based off the workload Lundqvist received.
One thing to look for in this game will be the ice time 20-year-old Lias Andersson receives. Andersson played just 8:33 in the opener. “I got a theory,” Quinn said. “I don’t want to elaborate. I want to keep conversation between Lias and I about what happened last night. He’ll play more.”
The Blueshirts shook up the defensive pairings during Friday’s practice. It’s likely the new pairings will start the game in Ottawa. The Rangers are expected to stick with the same forward lines that opened the season. The Rangers offense will get another favorable matchup which could see them create a lot of scoring chances. Ottawa was the only team last season to allow over 300 goals.
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