It is just the first weekend of the National Hockey League season, but already the New York Rangers have some things to get excited about.
The Rangers missed the playoffs by only one point last season. Although they had a winning record (36-34-10), that was fifth-best in the tough Patrick Division. They knew they had to show improvement.
First, they learned that Guy Lafleur, a Hall of Famer who retired 4 years ago, can still skate with the best at 37.
Next, the Rangers found that they had a potentially high-scoring line in a group centered by Kelly Kisio. Kisio and wings Tomas Sandstrom and Ulf Dahlen have sent the Rangers off to a good start on the road.
The line accounted for the first 3 goals Saturday night at St. Louis as the Rangers beat the Blues, 4-2.
In the Rangers’ opener Thursday night at Chicago, after a lethargic first two periods, Dahlen and his linemates brought the Rangers from behind in a 2-2 tie.
Dahlen, who scored the two goals in Chicago, had a goal and 2 assists, Sandstrom had 3 assists and Kisio scored the first 2 goals against the Blues. Kisio scored 67 seconds after the opening face-off, then scored again on his next shift at 4:27.
Doug Wickenheiser was the only other Ranger to score. He knocked the puck into an empty net with 46 seconds remaining.
Lafleur, being used sparingly by Coach Michel Bergeron, nevertheless showed flashes of his old ability.
Washington 6, Buffalo 2--Although they are usually a playoff team, the Capitals have often had trouble getting their first win of the season. They opened at home Friday night and lost.
In their second game at Landover, Md., they went up against the Sabres, a team they had not beaten at home for almost 4 years.
But Dave Christian scored twice and assisted once to lead the Capitals to an easy victory.
It was only the Capitals’ 7th victory in 54 games against the Sabres. At the Capital Centre, where the Capitals’ last victory over Buffalo was on Nov. 17, 1984, the Sabres hold a 19-3-5 edge.
The Sabres, who were 7-0-1 in the exhibition season, won their opener against Montreal.
Toronto 7, Chicago 4--When he learned last week that he had made the Toronto roster, wing Daniel Marois was still a teen-ager.
Now 20, Marois has proved in just two games that he belongs in the NHL.
In this game at Toronto, Marois split the defense and beat little goalie Darren Pang with a backhand shot at close range halfway through the second period to give the Maple Leafs the lead for good.
Thursday at Boston, Marois scored at 2:26 of the first period on his first shot on his first shift. It was the only Toronto goal in a 2-1 loss.
New Jersey 5, Quebec 3--It was a bitter night for the Nordiques. First they learned that Michel Goulet, their outstanding left wing, would be out at least 4 weeks because of torn ligaments in his left knee.
Then, after taking a 3-1 lead into the last period of their home opener, they fell apart.
Patrik Sundstrom scored 2 power-play goals and added an assist during a 4-goal outburst that carried the Devils to victory.
Goulet hurt the knee in the first period Thursday night when he was hooked by the Whalers’ Ulf Samuelsson. Despite the pain, Goulet had a goal and 2 assists.
Goulet was in such pain on his return to Quebec Friday that he underwent arthroscopic surgery.
Boston 6, Hartford 2--After a slow start a year ago, the Whalers came back to earn a spot in the playoffs.
After two 6-2 defeats at home, it appears they are in for another uphill fight.
Defenseman Ray Bourque, who led the Bruins into the Stanley Cup finals last season, assisted on 4 goals.
Montreal 4, Minnesota 3--Defenseman Chris Chelios set up Mats Naslund and Gilles Thibaudeau for first-period power-play goals at Montreal, and the Canadiens held on for the victory.
It was the second loss in a row for the North Stars, who had the worst record in the league last season.
Detroit 3, Vancouver 3--The Red Wings, humiliated in their opener against the Kings Thursday night, appeared headed for another defeat at Vancouver.
They trailed, 3-1, and had only 12 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes. But Steve Yzerman, one of the best players in the league, scored a goal and set up the tying goal by Dave Barr with less than 4 minutes remaining in regulation.
Each team had only one shot on goal in the 5-minute overtime.