Hockey is back at Madison Square Garden and the New York Rangers jumped out to a lead thanks to a Marc Staal wraparound beauty.
Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, Kaapo Kakko, Pavel Buchnevich—if you had to place a bet on who would score the first goal of the year for the New York Rangers, you’d probably pick one of those players.
Interestingly enough, Marc Staal forced conventional wisdom to seem foolish.
At the 11:35 mark of the first period, Staal took a puck in deep around the net thanks to a nifty Zibanejad feed. Staal put the puck on goal which found a way past Connor Hellebuyck for a 1-0 Ranger lead.
Marc Staal: 3 goals in 79 games last year, 1 goal in 1 game this year.
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) October 3, 2019
The goal came at the perfect time, considering how New York struggled early to establish any zone pressure after Ryan Strome took two early penalties.
Henrik Lundqvist has been sharp to start the year, having to make 10 saves in the early going with the Rangers still trying to find their legs offensively.
They have the capability to create some offense with the likes of Kakko, Zibanejad, Buchnevich and Panarin, but when a team is killing penalties early, top offensive players aren’t going to see proper ice time.
New York will look to establish more of a forecheck as the rest of this game unfolds. For now, Marc Staal goes down in the history books as the first Ranger to score in the 2019-20 season.
The New York Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets are tied at one in the late stages of the first period.