The New York Rangers shook off two rough performances to post their first victory of the season and hope to make it two straight when they host the unbeaten St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. The Rangers suffered a season-opening home loss to Colorado - the league’s worst team last campaign, surrendered eight goals in a setback at Toronto and needed two goals by Montreal to be overturned on Sunday before skating to a 2-0 win.
Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 34 shots for his 62nd career shutout in a game he was not even scheduled to start after being pulled against Toronto, which scored five goals against him in the first period the previous night. “The first two games were pretty much back and forth against two teams that try to go for it all the time, and that’s a little risky,” Lundqvist told reporters. “(On Sunday), I felt like we played more our style. We were more in control and used our speed when there’s an opportunity for it.” The Rangers will have to be just as sharp against the Blues, who defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 in a shootout on Monday as Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and added another tally in the bonus format. St. Louis, which has started 3-0-0 for the third time in five seasons, has been ravaged by injuries but received balanced scoring and solid defense to beat Pittsburgh and Dallas as well in the early going.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE BLUES (3-0-0): Tarasenko now has a team-high three goals on the season after his performance on Monday, while defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and Jaden Schwartz each notched an assist and top St. Louis with five points apiece. Paul Stastny also helped set up a goal, closing within three points of 600 in his career, and fellow center Ivan Barbashev registered one shot over 9 minutes, 34 seconds of ice time in his season debut. Jake Allen has played all three games, turning aside 107-of-115 shots - including 40-of-42 to beat the Islanders, but backup Carter Hutton (2-0-0, .945 save percentage against the Rangers) is slated to start on Tuesday.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (1-2-0): Mika Zibanejad is warming to the challenge of even more responsibility as the No. 1 center by recording at least one goal in every game and four overall in the early going. “I just am trying to place myself in a good spot out there and the guys are finding me and the puck seems to be going in,” Zibanejad told reporters. “That’s just the mentality. You just have to keep shooting when you are hot.” Mats Zuccarello leads the team with four assists and five points while the veteran Rick Nash has yet to record a point but is second on the team with 13 shots.
1. St. Louis RW Scottie Upshall, who was re-signed as a free agent just before the season began, is one away from 700 games in his career.
2. The Rangers have converted four of their 12 opportunities with the man advantage but allowed four power-play goals in three games.
3. New York, which is 4-1-1 in its last six meetings with the Blues, claimed RW Adam Cracknell off waivers from Dallas on Monday.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Blues 2