Mika Zibanejad was the star player, as he helped the New York Rangers get the new season off to a bright start against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night.
Zibanejad scored two goals, including a tiebreaking power-play goal in the third period, and the Rangers crushed the Lightning 3-1.
Barclay Goodrow was also on the score sheet, and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin stopped 26 shots to help the Rangers start the season with a win against the squad that eliminated them from the Eastern Conference final in June.
After the match, Zibanejad had only good things to say about his team.
“The way we played tonight is a lot how we want to play — to trust ourselves and trust the system. We did a good job tonight, and we have to keep doing that.”
“Obviously, it’s nice to see the puck go in, not just to get the win but the way we won.”
Zibanejad, who scored a short-handed goal early in the second period, gave New York a 2-1 lead at 5:11 of the third with a slap shot from the left circle off a pass from Artemi Panarin, who got his 250th point with the Rangers.
Tampa Bay Lightning coach, Jon Cooper also had something to say.
“We competed, we just didn’t execute at all, and when you’re not going to do that, it doesn’t matter how hard you try. We looked frustrated in the third. … We’re a better team than we showed tonight.”
Goodrow made it 3-1 as he deflected Ryan Lindgren’s long shot from the left point past Vasilevskiy with 9 minutes remaining said:
“Right from the get-go, I thought we were engaged, we were on it, we were competing. I thought everyone did a good job. From the drop of the puck, we were playing well. It was a full team effort tonight. It was a great first game.”
The Lightning, tops in the NHL with 291 power-play goals over the last five seasons, got their first-man advantage of the game early in the second period.