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Gaborik's Garden debut comes vs. Senators @NHLdotcom

SENATORS (0-0-0) at RANGERS (0-1-0)

Season series: The teams split four games last season, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist turned in the most impressive performance of the series, making 33 saves in a 2-0 shutout in Ottawa.

Big Story: Rangers fans get their first regular-season look at scoring sensation Marian Gaborik, who had a goal in Friday's 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh. The Senators play their first game since the Dany Heatley trade.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- Gaborik got the big contract to score goals this summer, but he can't do it all himself. Brandon Dubinsky has become a fan favorite in his first two seasons, but now he has a new contract and new expectations to live up to. The home fans will be demanding.

Senators -- Ottawa finally got through the Heatley soap opera, and will look to Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek to help replace the 39 goals Heatley scored last season. The hope is goaltender Pascal Leclaire is fully healed from ankle surgery that ended his season in December.

Who's Hot -- Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist had the worst goals-against average of his four-year NHL career last season, but the 2.43 he posted was still 11th in the League. His 38 wins were a career high. Senators center Jason Spezza turned in his third straight 30-goal season in 2008-09.

Injury Report -- Sean Avery sprained the MCL in his right knee Sept. 21 in a collision with teammate Ryan Callahan, and while he has returned to skating, he isn't taking contact and his status for the home opener is questionable. Ottawa center Mike Fisher sat out Thursday's practice, but he told the Senators' Web site he would be in the lineup Saturday. Forward Jesse Winchester is out at least two more weeks with a knee injury.

Stat Pack -- Daniel Alfredsson had 2 goals in four games against the Rangers last season, and has 53 points in 49 career games against them. But his 24 goals and 74 points last season were his lowest totals since the 2000-01 season. The Rangers will try to keep Alfredsson and the rest of the Senators down with one of the youngest defense corps in the League -- four of the six defensemen on their roster are 25 or younger.

Puck Drop -- The Senators tough season carried over into their summer thanks to the Heatley debacle. Now that the 2009-10 season is starting, the players are ready to put the past firmly behind them.

"It's a season where we feel we've got a lot to prove, but we feel confident coming into it that we're a much improved team," Fisher said. "We're looking forward to getting going and we think it's going to be a great year."

-- Adam Kimelman,





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