Recap: Rangers Win Exciting Home Opener 2-1

Recap: Rangers Win Exciting Home Opener 2-1
Oct 16, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba (8) is separated from Arizona Coyotes defenseman Matt Dumba (24) by linesman Tommy Hughes (65) during a fight after the Rangers defeated the Coyotes 2-1 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 in what was a very exciting home opener full of action and chaos. The Blueshirts improved to 2-1-0 on the season, and started the season off at home on a positive note.

1st Period:

Both teams were active right from the jump as there were minimal play stoppages and ample chances going either way through the first half of the period. Quite the track meet as MSG’s John Giannone described it from between the benches following the first TV timeout of the broadcast.

Not long after, Ryan Lindgren took a big hit from Nick Bjugstad that left him slowly skating to the Rangers bench. Lindgren was listed as a game-time decision today after missing the last outing with an upper-body injury. Of course in typical Ryan Lindgren fashion, he was back for his next shift.

With just under six minutes to go in the first, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider found themselves on a 2-on-1 thanks to a nice chip out from Kaapo Kakko. Zibanejad pulled the defender his way, fed Kreider who had a wide open net to shoot at and the Garden crowd erupted. Although, perhaps not as much as they did during Rangers Goaltending Coach Benoit Allaire’s introduction in the opening night ceremony but nevertheless, the Rangers were on the board. Chris Kreider now has four goals through the first three games of the year.

Not long after the goal, Vincent Trocheck got called for interference after getting tied up with Alex Kerfoot away from the play. The Coyotes wouldn’t get a full chance on the power play as Matias Maccelli got called for slashing a minute and a half in. The Rangers spent the entirety of the brief 4-on-4 in Arizona’s zone, which translated directly into them getting set up on their first power play attempt of the night. Despite a couple strong chances, the score remained 1-0, a lead the Rangers would take into the first intermission.

The Rangers were great offensively through the games first twenty, out-shooting the Coyotes 13-10. However, they were a bit careless at times in their own end, getting in each other’s way, having multiple players go for the same puck.

2nd Period:

It was all New York through the first couple of minutes into the second, but the tide would turn on a holding call against Braden Schneider. Kreider had a shorthanded attempt early on however once Arizona got set up, it was only a matter of time before Logan Cooley and Nick Schmaltz fed Clayton Keller perfectly for a one timer that beat Igor Shesterkin to tie the game up at one.

The Rangers defensive zone struggles continued as K’Andre Miller had a bad turnover that resulted in him getting caught flat footed, taking a penalty to send the Coyotes power play unit right back out there. The Rangers were able to kill this one off, although the penalties really took a toll on the pace of the game. The Rangers were held without a shot on goal for half the period and could not sustain any consistent offense.

Travis Dermott held the stick of Jacob Trouba, taking him down in the offensive zone to give the Rangers their second man advantage of the night. Both power play units got chances with Erik Gustafsson replacing Blake Wheeler on that second combination. Zibanejad had a couple strong looks, one of which rang off the post but the score remained locked at one as the Rangers were now 0-2 on the night.

Things got a little chippy towards the end of the second as Ryan Lindgren caught Jack McBain up high with a hit. A small crowd gathered at the whistle but nothing worth any penalty assignments occurred.

Shortly after, Shesterkin sent a beautiful cross ice, one timer pass to Artemiy Panarin at the far blue line. What could have been a surefire breakaway for Panarin was interrupted by referee Kelly Sutherland, who got the puck caught up in his skates while trying to get out of the way.

Things went from bad to worse for the Rangers as Alexis Lafrenière got called for slashing in the defensive zone when the play went the other way. That quickly turned into a full 5-on-3 power play chance for the Coyotes as Ryan Lindgren was awarded an unsportsmanlike conduct upon firing the puck into the boards after the whistle.

An inspiring penalty kill from the Rangers kept the score tied as the horn sounded to end the period. After only registering four shots on goal in the second, the Rangers were now behind on that count 19-17 and still had 42 seconds to kill on the Coyotes 5-on-3.

3rd Period:

A beautiful shot block from Jacob Trouba helped solidify the penalty kill for the Rangers to start the third period. With about twelve minutes to go in the game, the Rangers would get their third and final chance at the power play.

Just after Connor Ingram robbed Mika Zibanejad on a one-timer attempt, Artemiy Panarin let a wrister go from the point that deflected off traffic in front to give his team the 2-1 lead. Panarin would be credited with the goal initially, however Vincent Trocheck would later be named the goal-scorer as it was his stick that redirected Panarin’s shot.

The Rangers would be without Adam Fox for a couple of minutes following his assist on the Trocheck goal, as he had gone to the Rangers locked room after going down awkwardly on a play prior to the Matt Dumba penalty. Thankfully, he was able to return to play, which between that and the fact that he stayed out for the power play, should indicate that it isn’t anything too serious.

With just under five minutes to go, Jason Zucker was taken down by Barclay Goodrow on a breakaway that gave him a penalty shot. Shesterkin came up huge with a save on a point blank wrist shot to remain perfect on penalty shots throughout his career. (4 saves on 4 attempts)

That save proved to be a defining moment in the game as the Coyotes weren’t able to get much going in the games final minutes. After the horn sounded, Ryan Lindgren and Barrett Hayton got tied up together which escalated into everyone on the ice getting involved in the scrum. Shesterkin even stepped in to hold Matt Dumba back which briefly resulted in them exchanging shoves before Jacob Trouba stepped in for a lengthy interaction with Dumba.

All in all, a solid win for the home opener. The Rangers still have some work to do defensively but continued to showcase their offensive strengths throughout the night. The final tally on shots was 28-27 in favor of New York. They dropped a bit in face-offs, only winning 46% of them but continued to thrive when it came to blocking shots and most importantly, found a way to win.

The Blueshirts are back at it at Madison Square Garden Thursday night as they’ll host the Nashville Predators.