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game recap

Islanders spoil Lafreniere's NHL debut, shut out Rangers in opener

Varlamov makes 24 saves; No. 1 pick in 2020 Draft held to one shot

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Barzal pads the lead

NYI@NYR: Barzal makes nifty move on rush for goal

Mathew Barzal grabs the puck on the rush, makes a move on the defender then goes glove-side to extend the Islanders lead to 3-0 in the 1st

  • 00:35 •

NEW YORK -- Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves and Anders Lee scored two goals for the New York Islanders in a 4-0 win against the New York Rangers in the season opener for each team at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

The Islanders spoiled the NHL debut of Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. He had one shot on goal and was minus-1 in 15:27 of ice time.

Varlamov's shutout was the 28th of his NHL career and first in 14 games against the Rangers. The teams will play here again Saturday.

"I always have confidence in this team," Varlamov said. "I think we have a great group of guys, a great team. Every time I play, I know I have a chance to win because I know who I'm playing with. Every time I play, the guys give me a chance to win."

Video: Varlamov earns Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Lafreniere admitted he was nervous before the game.

"But after a couple shifts, [I] felt better," he said. "I was trying to work as hard as I can. Obviously a tough first game, but we'll get better and we'll work on our game and try to bounce back Saturday."

Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves for the Rangers, who were 0-for-3 on the power play and gave up two goals on the penalty kill.

"They did a good job in a lot of areas and we certainly weren't good in many, if any at all," Rangers coach David Quinn said. "We've got to be quick learners because we play them Saturday and it might be a good lesson, a reminder for a bunch of guys that probably don't instinctively have it in their hockey DNA to play the way that we needed to tonight. The good news for us is a bunch of guys that were here last year did it for long stretches of time, and we've got to do that starting on Saturday."

The Islanders were 2-for-8 on the power play, starting with Brock Nelson's goal from the slot to make it 1-0 at 2:33 of the first period.

Lee scored 1:19 later to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead. He kept the puck on a 2-on-1 and scored with a glove-side shot from the left circle at 3:52.

"I think we just wanted to start on the right foot, get to our game early and find that momentum by playing the way we need to play," Lee said. "I think we did a good job of that. It was a result of a good camp, everyone being ready for tonight and 'Varly' playing a good game."

Video: NYI@NYR: Lee wires home top-shelf wrist shot

Mathew Barzal made it 3-0 at 13:31 of the first, when from the right circle he shot the puck around Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo and past Shesterkin.

Lee scored again with a redirection of a pass from Jordan Eberle for a power-play goal at 14:54 of the second period to make it 4-0.

Varlamov made 12 saves in the second.

"I thought we had a really good game today overall," Varlamov said. "We had a great start, scored a quick couple of goals and that set the tone. It's always easier to play like that, when you score first. Overall, I'm pretty happy with what we did today."

Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba thought he scored at 9:15 of the second, but the goal was immediately waved off. The no-goal call stood after an official review.

The Islanders had a goal negated by a coach's challenge for goalie interference at 8:45 of the third period, when they outshot the Rangers 12-3.

"There's no statement game for us," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "It's the first game of the season against a rival. We know how important points are in a shortened season. We wanted to come out and play well. I thought we had a really good start.

"A couple minutes into the third period, about five minutes in, I thought we locked it down real good. I liked our game, but there's another level for us."

NOTES: It was the first shutout for an Islanders goalie in a season opener since Chico Resch against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 7, 1976. … Rangers defenseman K'Andre Miller, the No. 22 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, also made his NHL debut. He had one shot on goal and was minus-1 in 13:59.

Video: Lee, Varlamov power Islanders' shutout win

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