The New York Rangers opened up their 2016-2017 campaign in the win column tonight, as they defeated the New York Islanders by a final score of 5-3. After a rather quick start to this game, the Rangers let the Islanders slip back in the third period, but they quickly cleaned up their mistakes and pulled back in front. As expected, Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad, Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Vesey all had impressive debuts for the Rangers, and much of that was on display late in the game.
Early on in this game, the Rangers controlled a majority of the game and their speed was certainly giving the Islanders some trouble. Following numerous chances in the offensive zone, the Rangers finally caught their break and Michael Grabner slammed home a rebound against his former team.
The play started with a great defensive effort in the Rangers own end, and the new-look fourth line quickly transitioned it into a scoring opportunity. The speed and deception gave the Rangers plenty of options on the 4-on-2, and Grabner cashed in off of a rebound generated by Brandon Pirri.
After a rather impressive performance in the first period, the Rangers carried their strong play over to the second and eventually came away with a 2-0 lead. It took them until the end of the period, but Mats Zuccarello caught a fortunate bounce and bounced the puck in off of a defenseman.
Even though it was a lucky bounce, Brady Skjei did an excellent job of opening up a passing lane and finding Zuccarello open in the slot. Skjei had an extremely rough outing during the preseason, so it was nice to seem him rebound nicely when the games actually count.
If you were watching the third period of this game, you probably had bad flashbacks to last season where the Rangers essentially gifted leads away in the third period. While that did happen tonight, the Rangers were able to rebound rather effectively and cleaned up their own mess. Following a pair of goals from Nick Leddy, and Cal Clutterbuck, the Rangers took back a 3-2 lead coming off of a monster goal from Chris Kreider.
Pavel Buchnevich miraculously created the goal with an elevated clearing attempt that landed right in Kreider’s glove, and he finished it off on a breakaway. Not a bad way for Buchnevich to pick up his first NHL point, and on a goal from his new best friend. A few minutes after the go-ahead goal, John Tavares was whistled down for holding and sent the Rangers to the power play.
That is where Brandon Pirri picked up his first “official” goal as a Ranger and put the Rangers up by a pair of goals. Chris Kreider tallied his second point of the period on the goal, after making an unbelievable behind-the-back pass over to Pirri. With the goaltender pulled, the Rangers iced the game with an empty-net goal coming from J.T. Miller.
After starting out the season with a win, the Rangers will immediately turn their attention to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.