The New York Rangers opened up their preseason schedule with an impressive 5-2 win over the New York Islanders tonight at Madison Square Garden. There were plenty of positives to takeaway from the game, most notably the explosive start by one of the Rangers newest acquisitions, Mika Zibanejad.
The trio of Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Pavel Buchnevich had a solid outing, and to no one’s surprise, they had a pretty dominant performance. In addition, Brandon Pirri and Adam Clendening made their presence felt on the power play with some quick puck movement and smart shooting.
Magnus Hellberg and MacKenzie Skapski also turned in solid performances in between the pipes, and helped secure the victory. The Islanders were able to catch a fortunate bounce just 1:33 into the game, and Jason Chimera chipped home a loose puck in the crease to make it a 1-0 game. A few minutes later, the Rangers went to work on the power play, and Mika Zibanejad quickly made it a 1-1 game with a laser of a shot from the left circle. Zibanejad was a dominant force all night long, and his first goal at MSG gave everyone a taste of what is to come.
Nearing the end of the period, the Rangers really turned the game in their favor and Chris Kreider gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Adam Clendening started the entire sequence with a beautiful spin-o-rama pass to put the puck into open ice, and Kreider was able to step into a shot. With plenty of traffic in front, the shot deflected off of an Islander at the top of the crease and slipped in behind Jean-Francois Berube. Later on in the second period, the Rangers dominant power play went to work once again, and they came away with their second goal of the game.
This time it was Mika Zibanejad setting up Brandon Pirri off to the right side of the net, and Pirri wired a shot under the crossbar. When the Rangers brought in Pirri earlier in the summer, it was expected that he would be put in a position to use his lethal shot. That was put on full display tonight as he continued to fire the puck whenever he had the chance, and that alone made the power play much more dangerous.
The Islanders were able to turn it up a notch at the start of the third period, and thanks largely in part to Mackenzie Skapski, this game remained close. However, Nick Leddy eventually made this a one-goal game after a loose puck fluttered out to the high slot and it put in off of the crossbar.
With under seven minutes remaining in the game, the Rangers scored a pair of goals coming from Dylan McIlrath and Dan Girardi to make it a 5-2 final. For their first game of the season, the Rangers turned in an impressive performance and will look to build off of that come Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.