After a rousing pre-game intro video, which was one part classy Foligno-with-the-C and one part dubstep, the puck was dropped on the 2015-2016 season.
It was a battle between Sergei Bobrovksy and Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, and for most of the game these two keepers made this a true goaltending battle.
The Jackets were shot out of a cannon (pun partially intended) to start this game. All four lines were rolling, and each had the Rangers hemmed in their zone. The hits were coming fast and furious, and the likes of Rene Bourque and pretty much all three fourth-liners were wreaking havoc on the Blueshirts.
The fourth line had an especially effective shift early on, finishing a scoring chance with Boll dropping Viktor Stalberg in front of his net, which was followed up by a couple fresh ones to his chin by Marc Staal. Boll and Staal went to the box, with Boll receiving an additional minor.
On the ensuing powerplay, the Rangers were unable to convert. The Jackets used forward duos of Gregory Campbell-Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky-Boone Jenner, and Cam Atkinson saw a few seconds of kill time. Atkinson in fact had a terrific shorthanded chance, but was stopped by Lundqvist.
Bourque had a very effective first period. He had a handful of shots, and as mentioned, was dishing out the hits. He needs to maintain this level to be effective, but early returns are positive.
Then, the shitty news. Alexander Wennberg was rocked with an open-ice hit in the defensive zone by Chis Kreider. Wennberg skated slowly to the bench, and spent the TV timeout in the trainer's room. He returned to the bench, but it was announced at the start of the second period that he would not return. Wild Bill Karlsson will take his spot between Scott Hartnell and Atkinson.
A whoopsie moment happened a few minutes later, after Bourque finished a check on Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh ducked to avoid the hit, causing Bourque to hit him high. During the replay, Jody Shelley was giving his thoughts on the hit when a very clear expletive was caught on his mic. Gotta find that cough button,, Jody!
Bourque went to the box, but the Jackets killed the penalty.
With a few minutes left in the opening period, the Jackets earned their first powerplay. They debuted their 1-3-1 system, and let's just say that it's a work in progress.
In the final minute of the first period, David Savard passed the puck out of the corner to Bobrovsky's right toward the faceoff dot. Gregory Campbell was not expecting this pass, and the puck made its way to the stick of Mats Zuccarello, who deposited a backhander past Bobrovsky.
1-0 Rangers: Mats Zuccarello (Unassisted)
Thirty seconds into the second period, CBJ announcer Jeff Rimer called Brandon Dubinsky "MacKenzie" after finishing a check. Oy.
The Jackets earned a powerplay 1:20 in, but were unable to convert, though the passes were looking crisper and shots were starting to get through traffic.
Less than a minute after that penalty was over, the Jackets went to the man advantage again, but were again unable to get anything going.
Midway through the period, the Jackets scored their first goal of the season. After Derick Brassard misplayed the puck in the CBJ zone, Dubinsky gathered the puck and sent a perfect pass up-ice to a streaking Atkinson, who skated in alone on Lundqvist, beating him with a deke.
1-1: Cam Atkinson (Brandon Dubinsky)
The play was back-and-forth for much of the remainder of the period. With 3:35 left though, Kreider was sent in alone on Bobrovsky, but the netminder executed a nice poke check to eliminate the threat. The puck went the other way, with Boone Jenner getting a clear look, but Lundqvist stood tall.
In the last minute of the second period, Zuccarello was sent to the box for roughing. The Jackets couldn't score before the horn sounded, but started the third period up a man. As is often the case, the Jackets couldn't get set up to start the period while on the PP.
The Jackets started to get in trouble in the third period with sloppy passing. Far too many pucks were being sent cross-ice and intercepted by Rangers. Both teams did have their chances to break the tie though.
With 4:02 left, the Jackets did just that. With McDonagh in the box on a delay of game call, Brandon Saad notched his first goal as a Jacket, wiring a shot past Lundqvist.
2-1 Jackets: Brandon Saad (Ryan Murray, Ryan Johansen)
In flashbacks of last season, the Jackets quickly gave up the equalizer. 1:14 after Saad's goal, Kevin Connauton failed to clear the zone and Oscar Lindberg skated in on Bobrovsky, beating him with a wrist shot.
2-2: Oscar Lindberg (J.T. Miller)
Seventeen seconds later, the Rangers would score again. This time it was Kevin Hayes, who was basically on the goal line in the corner to Bobrovsky's left. He fired a shot from the steep angle, somehow finding a hole through the goalie's gear and into the net.
3-2 Rangers: Kevin Hayes (Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan)
To complete the let-down, exactly one minute later Zuccarello scored his second of the game after Johansen kicked the puck to his skate from behind the goal line.
4-2 Rangers: Mats Zuccarello (Unassisted)
FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Rangers
- Rene Bourque stood out in a good way for me tonight.
- Congrats to Brandon Saad for his first goal as a Jacket.
- It's an important season for Cam, let's hope he can keep scoring goals.
- Bob's softie sucked.
- Have to clear the zone, Kev. Make the easy play.
- Hopefully Wennberg isn't out for long.