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Rangers Drop Opener to Colorado, 4-2

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia / NYRangers.com

The Rangers erased an early deficit but could not complete the comeback in a season-opening, 4-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Mika Zibanejad scored both Rangers goals on the power play, while Kevin Shattenkirk had an assist in his Rangers debut, but Tyson Barrie's goal late in the second period that broke a 2-2 tie proved to be the game-winner.

"It was a good hockey game," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Both teams had some good looks."

After early goals by Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen put Colorado up just 10:53 into the contest, the Rangers' power play got things evened up before the end of the period.

Video: COL@NYR: Zibanejad scores a PPG in the 1st period

Zibanejad's first of the night came off a pretty feed from Shattenkirk, who scooped up a loose puck and drew all four Avalanche defenders to him, opening up a lane for Zibanejad who was on the side of the net.

No. 93 tied the game with his second of the game when he buried a cross-ice pass from Mats Zuccarello with just over two seconds remaining in the opening frame.

"We've been working on [the power play] quite a bit," Zibanejad said after the Blueshirts went 2-for-6 with the man advantage. "Try to talk. I think we did a good job on the power play today. We were working back pucks and really earning and making the most of our chances. We've just got to take it a step further and score when we really need it."

Colorado would regain the lead on a goal by Barrie with 2:10 remaining in the second, and despite a 14-7 shot advantage in the third, Colorado would hold on and ice the game with an empty-net goal by Gabriel Landeskog with three seconds remaining in the contest.

Henrik Lundqvist, who became the first goaltender in franchise history to start 12 consecutive regular season openers, made 22 saves in the loss. Like his coach, Lundqvist was pleased with the effort, if not the result.

"Of course you want to start the season the right way, starting with a win." He said. "I think we did a lot of good things - things that we should bring for the next game and really build on. The result was not what we were looking for, but a lot of good things to build on."

The loss put a damper on the homecoming for Shattenkirk, who had some 120 friends and family in attendance tonight. While he finished with the assist and a team-high 23:48 of ice time, he said there's more he could contribute.

"I think the result still stings right now," he said. "When I look back on it a long time from now it will obviously be a great moment for me. It's still a special night in my career. But right now I think I am just a little upset with the result and some plays out there that I felt like I could have had a better effect on the game and helped our team out a little bit more."

New York hits the road for the first time this season to take on Toronto Saturday night.

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