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Rangers and Islanders renew their rivalry

by John Kreiser

RANGERS (1-0-0) at ISLANDERS (0-0-1)


Season series -- This is the first of six meetings this season between the New York area rivals -- they don't play again until a home-and-home series in early December. The teams split six games last season, with the Rangers winning two of three at the Nassau Coliseum.

Big story -- There figures to be plenty of passion at the Nassau Coliseum for a rare Monday afternoon game. The Rangers started their 85th NHL season with a bang, racing to a 5-1 lead on the way to a 6-3 victory over the Sabres in Buffalo. The Islanders got a point in a 5-4 shootout loss to Dallas.

Team Scope :

Rangers -- The Rangers had hoped for good things when they chose Derek Stepan in the second round of the 2009 draft. But no one could have foreseen what happened Saturday night -- Stepan became only the fourth player in NHL history to score three goals in his NHL debut. He nearly became the first four-goal scorer, but hit the post while trying for the empty net in the final minutes.

"I was just kind of getting my feet wet in my first NHL game. And it was a fun process," Stepan said. "I guess for me, it's just one of those things where you kind of go, 'I guess I got lucky."

Islanders -- The Isles earned a point in their opener by refusing to give up. They trailed 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2, but rallied for a 4-4 tie before losing in a shootout. Third-period goals by Blake Comeau and Matt Moulson gave the Islanders a point.

New York outshot Dallas 47-22 and carried the play for most of the night.

"When you get 45-50 shots on goal, you're doing some good things," said captain Doug Weight, who had one of the Islanders' three power-play goals. "I came into camp looking for some good things. Tonight's point was crucial."

Who's hot -- Brandon Dubinsky also got off to a good start for the Rangers with a pair of goals against the Sabres. … Weight, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, started the season with a goal and a pair of assists.

Injury report -- The Rangers are without captain Chris Drury (broken finger), who should be back within a few days, and center Vaclav Prospal, who's nowhere near returning from a knee injury. … The Islanders, already without defenseman Mark Streit (shoulder surgery) and forwards Kyle Okposo (shoulder surgery) and Rob Schremp (back), lost center John Tavares with a concussion in the first period against Dallas.

Stat pack -- The Rangers have won seven of their last eight visits to Long Island and seven of the last 10 overall. … The Islanders opened at home for only the sixth time since entering the NHL in 1972. They've lost shootouts in each of the last two seasons and are 2-2-2 in the six games.

Puck drop -- For the first time since 2007, Rick DiPietro was the Isles' opening-night starter in goal. He wasn't at his best -- surrendering four goals on 22 shots -- but would like nothing more than to be in goal against his team's biggest rival.

"I hope so, yeah," he said when asked about playing. "Like I said all along this is kind of a day-to-day thing, but I feel good. I would've liked to have played better, but it's a work in progress."

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