Blue Jackets-Rangers Preview
A late rally has the New York Rangers off to their best start in seven years. Oscar Lindberg is aiming for the best by a Rangers rookie in 23.
Lindberg looks to score in a third straight game as New York goes for a sweep of a home-and-home set with the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
New York is 2-0-0 to start a season for the first time since winning the first five games of 2008-09. The Rangers rallied with three goals in a span of 77 seconds late in the third period to beat Columbus 4-2 on Friday.
"They were just some quick plays that happened and we took advantage of the mistakes they made," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist told the team’s official website. "Finding a way to win a game is so important in this league."
Lindberg is unexpectedly finding ways to contribute immediately. The center, a second-round pick in 2010, has a goal in each of the first two games and can become the club’s first rookie to put together a longer streak since Steven King found the net in his first four games of 1992-93.
Lindberg had 28 goals and 28 assists in 75 games for Hartford of the AHL last season
"All of our guys are competitors," coach Alain Vigneault said.
Mats Zuccarello scored his first two goals of the season Friday. It was the first time he got on the scoresheet since missing 14 playoff games with a head injury suffered when he was hit in the head with a shot by defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Lundqvist is expected to get the start in net after making 31 saves Friday, two days after a 32-save effort in a 3-2 win at Chicago. He’s compiled a 1.73 goals-against average while winning four straight meetings with the Blue Jackets.
The Rangers, last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner, are taking the ice at MSG for the first time since losing 2-0 to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Jackets are looking to return the favor and spoil New York’s home opener, but coach Todd Richards wants to see a more complete performance.
"We played 57 1/2 minutes of the game," Richards said. "Mistakes are going to happen. They are a good hockey team and are going to generate their opportunities."
Brandon Saad scored in his Columbus debut after being acquired in a seven-player trade with Chicago over the summer and inking a six-year, $36 million extension.
"We gotta learn to close off games," Saad said. "We want to stay a little bit more disciplined, but that’s gotta be our calling card there is playing aggressive and playing relentless."
Cam Atkinson scored on a breakaway against Lundqvist on Friday, giving him four goals and five points in his last eight meetings with New York.
The Blue Jackets will likely be without second-year center Alexander Wennberg, who suffered a concussion on a hit by the Rangers’ Chris Kreider midway through the first period.
"I am not going to get into my opinion of it, … there’s no timetable yet," Richards said.
Columbus hasn’t opened a season 0-2 since going 0-7-1 in 2011-12.