Although "King Henrik" is expected to be back in net for the New York Rangers, the club’s star goaltender must have enjoyed the debut of his new backup.
Following a shutout from Antti Raanta, Henrik Lundqvist is set to face Arizona for the first time since the Rangers acquired standout defenseman Keith Yandle from the Coyotes last season.
Lundqvist started the first six games for New York (4-2-1), posting a 2.16 goals-against average and .931 save percentage before resting Monday against San Jose. With the Rangers playing a back-to-back and having lost three in a row, Raanta stopped 22 shots in a 4-0 victory.
Raanta, acquired from Chicago in a draft-day trade in June, joined Hal Winkler (1926), John Ross Roach (’28) and Marcel Paille (’57) as the only goaltenders to post a shutout in their first start with the Rangers.
Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast and Viktor Stalberg scored for the Rangers, who were outscored 9-2 and went 0 for 12 on the power play during their 0-2-1 stretch.
"Everyone in the room knows that the level we were playing at isn’t acceptable," Staal said. "It’s something we wanted to take care of."
New York capitalized on its one chance with the man advantage against San Jose.
The Rangers acquired Yandle from the Coyotes (3-2-1) in a multiplayer deal March 1. Although he wasn’t as big a factor as the club had hoped with two goals and nine assists in 19 playoff games, he did post a plus-7 rating in those contests and is expected to play a larger role in 2015-16.
Yandle had 65 goals and 246 assists in his eight-plus seasons with Arizona.
"When you’re traded you’re all in with the team you’re with," Yandle told the Rangers’ official website. "You try not to dwell in the past, just move forward. For me it’s all been about coming to my new team here and helping us win."
One of the promising pieces New York sent west in the Yandle deal was Anthony Duclair, and the young forward has been playing well for Arizona with five goals – including a hat trick against Anaheim last Wednesday – and two assists.
That 4-0 victory over the Ducks was the last of three straight to open the season, and the Coyotes have scored eight goals during the ensuing three-game skid.
Another big issue has been goaltending. Mike Smith allowed two goals during the first three games but has surrendered 11 on 85 shots in the last three. He was yanked after giving up three goals in the first 27 minutes against Minnesota last Thursday, and also let in five against Boston on Saturday.
Smith improved a bit with 22 saves against New Jersey on Tuesday but gave up a goal 43 seconds into overtime in a 3-2 loss. Duclair and Mikkel Boedker scored for Arizona in the opener of a five-game East Coast road trip.
"We have some areas we want to clean up and be harder to play against," Smith told the Coyotes’ official website. "You saw that if somebody blows a wheel or turns the puck over, it’s an opportunity the other way in overtime.
"The urgency, I feel, hasn’t been there."
The Rangers have won three straight matchups and 11 of 14. They’ve taken six in a row at Madison Square Garden.