St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) – Rick Nash netted a pair of goals, including a tie-breaking score with just 1:50 remaining that lifted the New York Rangers to a 3-2 season-opening victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Nash added an assist on Chris Kreider’s third-period tally, with Kreider notching an assist as well for the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Henrik Lundqvist finished with 23 saves for New York and had a shutout working through two periods, but was reached for goals by Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko in the third that pulled the Blues even prior to Nash’s late marker.
“A win is a win,” said Lundqvist. “You don’t really care who you’re playing. It was an important game for us.”
Schwartz also had an assist and Brian Elliott came up with 22 saves in the loss.
Tarasenko’s well-placed wrister through a screened Lundqvist knotted the score at 2-2 just past the midway point of the final period, but the Rangers were able to kill off a penalty later on before coming up big in the game’s waning stages.
Elliott turned aside an attempt from Nash with just under two minutes to go, but Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t clear the puck for the Blues and Martin St. Louis corralled it for New York. The veteran then sent a drop pass to the front of the crease that Nash buried home for the eventual game-winner.
“That’s not the way we want to come out,” said Elliot. “We want to come out dictating. The first game is not a sprint, it’s a marathon so we gotta take the good things from this game.”
The goal ended a wild third period in which both teams scored twice, with Schwartz beginning the barrage by knocking in a rebound of David Backes’ initial try 1:32 into the frame to tie the game at 1-1.
Nash found Kreider all alone down the left side less then five minutes later, however, and the New York wing converted the breakaway try to send his team back ahead at the 6:30 mark of the period.
The Blues again had an answer, though. Schwartz forced a turnover in the neutral zone to start a counterattack that Tarasenko finished with 9:18 left to play.
Kreider also had a hand in New York’s first goal, as the physical wing dislodged the puck from Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the St. Louis zone before sending it to Nash for a quick shot that got through Elliott’s pads 4:01 into the contest.
The Rangers had 16 shots to the Blues’ eight during the first period, but mustered just four chances in the second. Lundqvist continued to keep it a 1-0 game, however, by coming up with several key stops in the middle session.
The Rangers had lost seven of the last eight meetings between the clubs coming in … Offseason acquisition Paul Stastny assisted on Tarasenko’s goal in his Blues debut. The St. Louis native became the third member of his family to play for the team, joining his father, Peter (1993-95) and brother, Yan (2007-10) … The Blues went 0-for-5 on the power play … Dan Boyle, Anthony Duclair, Tanner Glass and Lee Stempniak all made their Ranger debuts, giving the team an even 1,000 players who have skated in at least one regular season or playoff game in its 89-year history.