Maple Leafs win a wild one in home opener
October 08 2017 08:39 PM
New York Rangers celebrate a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. (Getty Images/AFP)

By Steve Zipay/Newsday

In a wild game where goals poured down like rain, the Rangers lost, 8-5, to the Maple Leafs for their second straight defeat to start the season.
The Rangers rallied from a 5-1 first-period deficit to tie it at 5 after Henrik Lundqvist was chased. With the scored tied at 5 after 40 minutes, the Leafs scored twice - with the first coming after an offside challenge by coach Alain Vigneault that was denied and triggered a power play that ended with a second goal by Leo Komarov – sealing the Rangers fate.
The Maple Leafs, who had scored seven goals in their opener against Winnipeg, unleashed another barrage – five goals worth – in the first period. It was the first time Lundqvist had allowed five in the first period since Dec. 16, 2006, also against the Leafs.
“It was an embarrassing start, we showed some character in the second period, but I mean, we let in eight goals, that’s not our identity,” Mats Zuccarello said. “We have to realize you’ve got to defend first, we’re not going to win games like this. It’s going to be a long season if we play like this.”
Lundqvist’s reactions were late, and his body language poor. Although he was betrayed at times by his defense, Lundqvist stopped just 13 of 18 shots in the first period. He was pulled after that and Ondrej Pavelec replaced him to start the second. Pavelec, making his first appearance as a Ranger, who made 11 saves in the second with Lundqvist on the bench as the Rangers battled back with three goals for a 5-5 tie.
Not only did he switch goalies, Vigneault also shuffled lines and defensive pairs. For example, J.T. Miller moved to center between Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash.
From the left circle on the power play, Mika Zibanejad cut the Leafs’ lead to 5-3 with this third power-play goal of the season, helped by another assist for Shattenkirk at 7:43. 
Marc Staal scored his first of the season, when he hung in the slot and redirected a pass from Zuccarello to trim the margin to 5-4. Zuccarello’s tip then knotted the score at 5 from Staal and Miller at 14:06. The play was reviewed but Zuccarello’s stick was ruled under the crossbar. In his first game wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey, Zuccarello established a single-game career-high with four points (goal and three assists).
The Leafs windfall started quickly: Former Ranger Dominic Moore tipped Nikita Zaitsev’s wrister from the point at 2:30. J.T. Miller answered on assists from Chris Kreider, who had driven to the net, at 3:42. The Leafs then scored four straight, starting with Zach Hyman’s scoop of a breakdown in the offensive zone, and a deke to stretch Lundqvist to the right post before sliding the puck under his glove at 5:34. 
On a power play, defenseman Jake Gardiner waltzed past Brendan Smith high in the Rangers zone and came in alone for an unassisted score at 11:07, and Zaitsev collected his second point, a goal at 13:59. 
Hyman then outbattled two Blueshirts behind the net, and came around to jam a puck that Michael Grabner apparently jabbed through a kneeling Lundqvist at 17:19 to make it 5-1. The Blueshirts and Lundqvist looked dazed and confused.
With 23 seconds left in the first, Kevin Shattenkirk’s long power play floater with Kreider screening Frederick Andersen made it 5-2. It was his second point as a Ranger and 300th of his career. That brough a flicker of hope, which carried into the second period, but in the end, the Blueshirts didn’t have enough.
In the third, a tip by Tyler Bozak in front made it 6-5 with 12:43 left. Vigneault challenged the call as offside, but the goal stood, and under the new rules, the Leafs were awarded a power play. Komarov’s goal was the dagger on a night when there were a lot of wounds on each side.
Nazem Kadri wrapped it up with a power play goal at 18:30 on the 41st shot by the explosive Leafs, who managed to recover as the Rangers faded.

Capitals 6 Canadiens 1
Golden Knights 2 Coyotes 1 (OT)
Penguins 4 Predators 0
Maple Leafs 8 Rangers 5
Kings 4 Sharks 1
Canucks 3 Oilers 2
Blackhawks 5 Blue Jackets 1
Flyers 3 Ducks 2 (OT)
Blues 4 Stars 2
Red Wings 2 Senators 1 (SO)
Panthers 5 Lightning 4
Flames 6 Jets 3
Islanders 6 Sabres 3
Hurricanes 5 Wild 4 (SO)
Devils 4 Avalanche 1

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