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Rangers Get First Road Test of the Season in Toronto

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (0-1-0, 0 pts) at Maple Leafs (1-0-0, 2 pts)
7 pm, MSG Network

The Game

New York hits the road for its first away game of the season tonight against the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Despite the result, the Rangers were mostly pleased with their performance in a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Thursday night. New York out-shot the Avalanche, 39-26, with scoring chances a plenty. While there were mistakes made by the home team, several players felt if they correct the blemishes and turn in that type of performance on a nightly basis, they'd win more games than not.

The other bright spot was the power play, which scored on two of its six opportunities, with both tallies coming off the stick of Mika Zibanejad in the first period. The first of his goals came off a pretty feed from newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk, who made his presence with the man advantage felt almost immediately.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the start against the Maple Leafs.

Toronto, meanwhile, is coming off a strong performance Wednesday in its season-opener with a 7-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg, with the big guns leading the way up front.

Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, James Van Riemsdyk and newcomer Patrick Marleau all had at least a goal in the victory, with Matthews leading the way with three points to begin his second season in the NHL.

Toronto's dangerous power play, which was second in the NHL last season, converted on two of its four chances against the Jets, while goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 35 of 37 shots he faced, including all 18 with his team down a man.

Players to Watch

Mats Zuccarello picked up the primary assist on Zibanejad's second goal of the game, and No. 36 looks to build off that against a team he's had great success against in his career, and especially as of late.

Fifteen of Zuccarello's 16 career points against Toronto have come in the last eight games, with the winger posting eight goals and seven assists during that span.  

With a lineup full of young, budding superstars, it's Matthews who sits atop the list for Toronto. The 2016 first overall pick had 40 goals as a rookie a year ago and finished with 69 points on his way to the Calder Trophy. Matthews is already among the NHL's best despite turning 20 years old less than a month ago.

Say What?

"I was there in the playoffs last year. It's a wild building. The team is much better and the city is kind of behind them again. There's a lot of talent there. I think they really feed off that energy in their building, so we're going to have to make sure that we play a patient game, not try to play a run and gun game with them because that feeds right into their emotions and right into their system. If we can frustrate them a little early on, hopefully we can build off that and score on our chances." - Kevin Shattenkirk on facing the Maple Leafs at their home-opener

Rangers Projected Lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash - Filip Chytil - Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner - Kevin Hayes - J.T. Miller
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - Paul Carey

Ryan McDonagh - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Brendan Smith
Marc Staal - Tony DeAngelo

Henrik Lundqvist
Ondrej Pavelec

Inside the Numbers

The Rangers led the NHL with 27 wins and 56 points on the road last season, and since the 2013-14 season, no team has more victories away from their home rink than the Blueshirts' 99. 

New York has been exceptional at not letting losses snowball. Since Dec. 22, 2015, the Rangers are 40-11-4 following a loss of any kind. Last season, the Blueshirts went 23-7-4 after a defeat.

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