The New York Rangers opened their 90th season at home against their crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders, as Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots in a winning effort. Michael Grabner opened the scoring at 13:41 of the first period, and Mats Zuccarello added another late in the second, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead entering the third period. The Rangers famous third period meltdowns from years past seemed to be back in form tonight, as the Islanders opened the third with goals from Nick Leddy and Cal Clutterbuck within the first four minutes of the period. The Rangers answered back halfway through the period as 20-year-old Pavel Buchnevich set up Chris Kreider with a pass that MSG announcers likened to Tom Brady. Brandon Pirri and J.T. Miller added two more goals, building a three goal lead for the Rangers with two and a half minutes left to play. A minute later, Brock Nelson took advantage of an absolute defensive breakdown by the Blueshirts and beat Hank, pulling the Isles within two with just a minute and a half to play. The Rangers on the power play, thanks to another John Tavares penalty, were able to hold on for a 5-3 victory.
The night was highlighted Zibanejad (2A), Pirri (1G, 1A), and Buchnevich (1A), who shined in their first game on Broadway. Mika Zibanejad, acquired by the Rangers on July 18th along with a 2018 2nd-round draft pick in exchange for Derick Brassard and a 2018 7th-round pick, showed off his skills in his first game in front of Blueshirts fans at the Garden, finishing with two assists. Zibanejad skated on the second line tonight, centering Chris Kreider and 20-year-old rookie Pavel Buchnevich. The Rangers definitely seem to have won this deal as Zibanejad is only 23 and is entering the prime years of his career, as he has seen his point totals rise in each of his 4 season in Ottawa.
25-year-old Brandon Pirri, who split time last season with Florida and Anaheim, was signed this August to a one-year deal and finished the preseason with 4 goals and 2 assists. Pirri showed great effort backchecking and winning the battle below the goal line before joining a 4 on 2 rush, setting up Michael Grabner for the Rangers first goal of the night.
- Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich line showed great chemistry and puck movement, finishing the game with 5 points total.
- The power play unit didn’t look completely lost tonight.
- Hank wins his 375th game, moving to 14th all-time.
- Girardi still looks like a lost puppy.
- Sloppy offensive zone passing and defensive breakdowns in the middle of the ice leading to Islanders goals.