After a back-and-forth affair at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers won their home opener against the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. A game with all sorts of referee involvements, powerplays, penalty shots, and injuries, the Rangers survived the war and moved to 2-1 on the season, with the Nashville Predators next up on the docket. But before we get to that, let’s talk about this one.
In the first, the game started with the feel of a Knicks game. Everything was end to end. Igor Shesterkin was called into action for the Rangers, and then Connor Ingram was required to keep the Coyotes on equal footing. That end-to-end hockey made for a really enjoyable game to watch, if a bit nerve-wracking for the Blueshirt faithful. That was until the Rangers cracked the code.
Mika Zibanejad carried the puck up the ice on the right wing, forcing the Coyotes to respect his wicked shot. With the space the fear of the Zibanejad snapshot created, the Swedish centerman was able to slip the puck across the ice to the streaking Chris Kreider to make it 1-0 with the Rangers’ first goal on home ice this season. Kreider’s 4th of the season gave the Rangers the lead going into the first intermission.
In the second, the ice seemed to get tilted towards Igor. It took the Rangers until there were five minutes left to get a shot on target, and the constant parade to the box didn’t help. Eventually, the Coyotes would tie it up as Clayton Keller would get the Yotes on the board with a powerplay goal. Shortly after this goal, the Rangers would find themselves on the wrong end of a five-on-three after Artemi Panarin was denied a breakaway by the skate of a linesman but did well to kill the rest of the period and regroup during the intermission.
After killing the rest of it, it continued to be a back-and-forth game. A little while later, the Rangers would get a powerplay goal of their own as Vincent Trocheck tipped home a Panarin shot to restore the Blueshirts’ lead on home ice. Jason Zucker was awarded a penalty shot late on, but Igor Shesterkin continued his 100% save percentage on penalty shots in his career. New York would hold on to win.
Now, it’s not all good. Both Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren would sustain injuries in this game, and both would continue to play. If one or both of these guys have injuries that affect them long-term, given the Rangers’ current cap situation, it could be an issue for the team. However, both returned. Lindgren caught a high hit, and Fox had an awkward entanglement with a Coyotes forward.
Next up is the Predators at home. That is another game in which there will be expectations to win comfortably on home ice in front of the faithful crowd that gave multiple explicit chants tonight. Two points here make up ground on a team like the New Jersey Devils that fell at the hands of the Florida Panthers today. It leaves the Rangers top of the Metropolitan early, but there’s a lot of hockey left to be played.