Saturday, October 4, 2008

NY Rangers beat Tampa Bay Lightning in NHL opener... in Prague

The Jagr-less New York Rangers topped the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 today, in the National Hockey League's opener, in Prague, Czech Republic - the second straight year that the NHL has opened in Europe (while the league's preseason, curiously, is still going on elsewhere...).

Former Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund (LW) got first blood late in the second period with help from Scott Gomez, while Lightning stars Martin St. Louis (RW) and captain Vincent Lecavalier (C - assist) tied the game about four minutes into the third. Brandon Dubinsky (C) got the game winner with less than six minutes to go during a Rangers power play. "King of New York" Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 of 21 shots, while his counterpart, 26-year old former second-string Dallas Stars goalie Mike Smith, stopped a much more impressive 39 of 41. When your team is putting up half the shots as the opponent, and the spread is only 1 goal, you're doing pretty well there, goalie.

In his first NHL game, 2008 first round draft pick (1st overall) Steve Stamkos posted a minus-1 during his 8:25 minutes of ice time. For what that's worth...

Both teams have several players from the Czech Republic (Prucha and Rozsival from New York, and Meszaros, Mihalik, Prospal, and Vrbata from Tampa Bay), but let's be honest - the NHL was banking on Jaromir Jagr being with the Blueshirts. Instead, #68 shipped out to the KHL, Russia's revamped hockey league, for a two-year deal. Appropriately pissed off, the Rangers kicked some Russky tail in revenge.

As I type, the Pittsburgh Penguins are leading the Ottawa Senators 2-1 in the 2nd period, in Stockholm, Sweden... to be discussed in a separate post. The Rangers and Lightning play again in Prague tomorrow.

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