Kreider, Lundquist lead Rangers past Islanders, 5-3
NEW YORK – Henrik Lundqvist stopped two personal losing streaks and helped the New York Rangers start the new season with a big win against their crosstown rivals.
Lundqvist stopped 25 shots, Chris Kreider scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period and the Rangers scored three times over a 7:52 stretch to beat the Islanders 5-3 Thursday night.
"I was impressed with how the guys played with a lot of jump and great energy," Lundqvist said. "It was great to see the way we started off this season. I thought we played really well, a fast game. We had a stretch in the third where obviously we just have to manage the puck a little better."
Lundqvist beat Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak for the first time since Jan. 17, 2010, ending Halak's eight-game winning streak in the matchups — including the last five since joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season. Lundqvist had also lost six straight overall (0-5-1) against the Islanders.
Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello, Brandon Pirri and J.T. Miller also scored for the Rangers, who were opening a season at home for the first time since 2007.
"I think just for the team it was a really good effort," Kreider said. "A couple things we struggled with last year that we focused on right from the start, which I think is a great sign. You see us playing fast again. There are 81 games to play, but you want to play well in game one, game two, three, etc."
Nick Leddy and Cal Clutterbuck scored 3:17 apart early in the third period to tie it for the Islanders. Brock Nelson also had a goal and Halak finished with 34 saves.
Islanders captain John Tavares briefly left the game after getting whacked on his left hand in the opening minute of the third.
On the go-ahead goal, Kreider took a pass from rookie Pavel Buchnevich, skated in on Halak, crossed over to the right side and backhanded the puck past Halak at 9:45 of the third period.
"We are playing a good team and they've got some good speed," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Kreider got behind one of our guys on the game-winning goal. It's as simple as that. It's a game of inches."
Pirri made it 4-2 with 3:49 left on a power-play goal from the right faceoff dot. Miller added an empty-netter to make it 5-2 with 2:23 remaining before Nelson closed the scoring just more than a minute later.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault liked the way his team bounced back after giving up the lead.
"They make it 2-2, we made a couple of mistakes on rush coverage, but I liked the way we responded and came right back and made it 3-2," Vigneault said. "Power play went out in a pressure moment and gave us a two-goal lead and that was a big part of getting two points in this game."
Trailing 2-0, Leddy got the Islanders on the scoreboard 47 seconds into the third period as he took a pass from Casey Cizikas and fired it in off the left post.
Clutterbuck tied it at 4:04 when he deflected a shot by Nikolay Kulemin from the left faceoff circle past Lundqvist.
Grabner, who played for the Islanders from 2010-15, started the scoring with 6:19 left in the first period. Pirri got the puck from Jesper Fast and his shot from the inner edge of the left circle was stopped by Halak, but the puck deflected to Grabner on the right side and he put it in.
Zuccarello made it 2-0 when his backhander toward the front of the goal deflected off Islanders forward Ryan Strome's skate and through Halak's five-hole with 2:19 left in the second period.
Halak denied J.T. Miller on a breakaway during a Rangers power play about 5 1/2 minutes into the second period, moving up out of the crease to challenge the play.
The Islanders started slow and had just two shots on goal through the first 9:45, but then had three in a 26-second stretch. Ladd had a tip attempt and follow, and Shane Prince a wrister.
NOTES: The Rangers celebrated the start of their 90th season in a pregame ceremony. Former players in attendance included Eddie Giacomin, Rod Gilbert, Ron Duguay, Dave Maloney, Ron Greschner, John Vanbiesbrouck, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Mark Messier and 1994 Stanley Cup champion head coach Mike Keenan. ... Lundqvist became the second goalie in franchise history to start 11 consecutive season openers, joining Giacomin (11 from 1965-66 to '75-76). ... The Islanders won all four matchups last season, marking the first time they have swept a season series. The teams meet again Dec. 6 and Feb. 16 in Brooklyn, and March 22 back at MSG.
Islanders: visit reigning Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington on Saturday night.
Rangers: visit St. Louis on Saturday night.