CHICAGO (AP) — Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Klein and Derek Stepan scored in the first period, and the New York Rangers ruined Chicago’s Stanley Cup party with a 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks on Wednesday on the first night of the NHL season.
J.T. Miller had two assists and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves for New York, which begins the year with title aspirations of its own. The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy last season for the most points in the NHL, and then lost to Tampa Bay in seven games in the Eastern Conference final.
Cheered on by a sellout crowd of 22,104, with many dressed in their usual red jerseys, the Blackhawks raised the banner for the franchise’s sixth NHL title during a colorful pregame ceremony. Fluorescent balls bounced around the seats and LED wristbands for the fans provided a synchronized lightshow during player introductions and highlight presentations.
All-Star winger Patrick Kane, the subject of a sexual assault investigation in western New York, heard loud cheers when he skated onto the ice for the Cup celebration. Kane has not been charged, and has said he expects to be exonerated.
Artemi Panarin scored in his first NHL game for Chicago, which is trying to become the first team to successfully defend the title since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98. Teuvo Teravainen also scored, and Corey Crawford made 24 stops.
The banner had only been in the rafters for a short time when New York issued a stern reminder of the difficulty of repeating as champion. Just 1:43 into the game, Miller passed to Lindberg for a beautiful one-timer for the rookie’s first career goal.
After a wide-open Panarin responded for Chicago off a pass from Kane, the Rangers went ahead to stay on another one-timer — this one for Klein off a pass from fellow defenseman Keith Yandle. Stepan then made it 3-1 with 59 seconds left when he scored on a rebound off an odd-man rush.
The Blackhawks controlled most of the second and third periods, but were unable to overcome New York’s fast start. Marian Hossa set up Teravainen’s one-timer at 6:55 of the second, and Chicago had several opportunities late in the third, but Lundqvist was there each time.
Daley was denied in front with about 5 1/2 minutes left. Toews was denied on a prime chance with a minute remaining and Kane’s rebound score was waived off, leading to a round of boos from the crowd.
NOTES: The NL wild-card game was shown on the videoboard during each intermission, and there was a loud cheer when Dexter Fowler homered in the fifth to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates. There was another loud cheer when the Cubs’ finished off the win. … NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was booed when he was introduced before the game. A smiling Bettman put his hands together and bowed. … When Miller got two assists in the first, it was the first multipoint period of his career. … RW Emerson Etem, LW Tanner Glass and D Dylan McIlrath were scratched for the Rangers. … RW Viktor Tikhonov and D Ville Pokka were inactive for the Blackhawks.
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