There’s no truth to the rumor that the hockey gods control the weather, even though the chill in the air seemed like it was being cooled by a sheet of ice.
No it was just coincidence the opening of the NHL season happened on a chilly night and what better way for the New York Rangers to debut than to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hoist the Stanley Cup one more time.
A tough match-up, which gave the Blueshirts a barometer on how far they need to go, went pretty much as expected. Although they competed and the the scoring came from the right places, the Pens ultimately prevailed, 3-2.
“It just feels good to have the first game over with,” said netminder Henrik Lundqvist to reporters, who stopped 28 shots on the night. “It’s been a long week just practicing, just wanting to get going. The result is not what we were looking for, but still, we did a lot of good things. Third period, we came back pretty good.”
The Rangers never led in the match after Evgeni Malkin put the Pens on the board, just 7:48 into the first. A power play goal, showed the true power of the Stanley Cup Champs.
Yet, the Rangers showed resilience and tied the match about four minutes later, when Chris Higgins down low took a shot from the corner at Marc-Andre Fluery (25 saves), which was tipped in by captain Chris Drury.
Ultimately, though, the game was lost in the second when the Sidney Crosby and Tyler Kennedy scored 1:08 apart. It was just too much for the Blueshirts to overcome.
“That third goal was a very important goal in the game, and I think we just gave it to them,” said coach John Tortorella to reporters in Pittsburgh. “We’re breaking out of our end zone, we lose the puck, we’re not strong on the puck, point shot goes in. That put us in a hole.”
And one that became insurmountable. Although Marian Gaborik cut the Penguin lead in half, the Rangers couldn’t overcome that lead.
Yet, don’t fret the Rangers return to a more comfortable atmosphere tonight as they take on the Ottawa Senators in their home opener.
“I’m looking forward to the home opener at the Garden,” Lundqvist said to reporters. “It should be a different atmosphere.”
Notes: Michael Del Zotto became the first 19 year-old to make his Rangers debut on the blue line since Brian Leetch in 1988…Matt Gilroy also made his NHL debut. The 25 year-old was plus-2 in 19:58.