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* In another Golden Knights-Kings matchup to feature a back-and-forth affair, captain Mark Stone scored within the final 60 seconds of regulation to lift Vegas past its Pacific Division rival.
* Mika Zibanejad recorded a pair of firsts for the Rangers, highlighted by a shorthanded and power-play goal, as New York toppled Tampa Bay in the NHL’s inaugural 2022-23 regular-season game contested in North America.
* ESPN opened the season with a video feature on NHL ice expert Dan Craig and his son Mike titled Clean Sheet which was narrated by Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
STONE’S LATE WINNER LEADS GOLDEN KNIGHTS PAST KINGS IN OPENER
After each team scored once entering the third period, the Golden Knights and Kings alternated between five third-period goals to determine a winner – capped by captain Mark Stone’s go-ahead tally with 26 seconds left in regulation. Vegas, which has combined with Los Angeles to produce 7.5 goals per game through their past six meetings, has never lost a season-opening game on the road.
* Tuesday marked Stone’s second career go-ahead goal in the final minute of regulation. The only active player with more such tallies is Patrick Kane (3x), who can add to his total when the Blackhawks open their season against the Avalanche.
* Stone has now posted points in four consecutive season-opening games dating to 2019-20 (3-5—8 in 4 GP) and surpassed Max Pacioretty (3 GP from 2019-20 – 2021-22) for the longest such run by a Golden Knights skater. His eight career points in season openers with Vegas are also the most in franchise history.
ICYMI: Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick turned aside 47 of 51 shots in the effort and surpassed Rogie Vachon (45 on Oct. 7, 1972 at PIT) for the most by a netminder in a season-opening game in franchise history.
ZIBANEJAD SHINES AT MSG, LIFTS RANGERS PAST LIGHTNING IN SEASON OPENER
Mika Zibanejad (2-0—2), who posted 3-2—5 in six games against the Lightning in the 2022 Eastern Conference Final, netted a shorthanded and power-play goal Tuesday as New York exacted some revenge against Tampa Bay and bested one of the NHL’s top teams in season openers.
* Zibanejad, also the last Rangers player to record a multi-goal game in a season opener (2-0—2 on Oct. 5, 2017 vs. COL), became the first player in franchise history to record multiple goals in a season opener more than once in his career (also in 2017-18). Only two active NHL players have registered more: Alex Ovechkin (3x) and Auston Matthews (3x).
* The Rangers forward boosted his career totals in season-opening games with New York to 5-6—11 (7 GP). Only four players have netted more goals in that scenario for the franchise: Butch Keeling (7 in 10 GP), Jean Ratelle (6 in 11 GP) and Cecil Dillon (6 in 8 GP).
DID YOU KNOW?
Tuesday marked the first time the Rangers’ first goal of a season has come shorthanded (since 1933-34 when goals by type were officially tracked). Two other teams in the past five years have also achieved the feat: San Jose (Andrew Cogliano in 2021-22) and Tampa Bay (Anthony Cirelli in 2018-19).
* #NHLStats: Live Updates – Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022
* NHL Announces Opening-Day Rosters for 2022-23 Season
* Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Cale Makar top Hart Trophy picks in player poll
* Avalanche favorites to repeat as Cup champions in poll of NHL players
* Avalanche unveil Stanley Cup rings
SIX MORE GAMES ON TAP AS NHL’S OPENING WEEK CONTINUES
The Avalanche are one of a dozen teams that will drop the puck on their 2022-23 campaigns – including a set of doubleheaders on Sportsnet in Canada and TNT in the U.S.
* Colorado will raise its championship banner to the rafters before hosting Chicago in the second half of the doubleheader on TNT – the network that will carry the Stanley Cup Final for the first time ever in 2022-23.
* Alex Ovechkin’s chase for 800 career goals begins when Washington, with wins in each of its past five season-opening games, welcomes Boston to Capital One Arena. The Capitals captain is the active leader in goals in season openers (13 in 17 GP) and sits one shy of tying Michel Goulet (14 in 13 GP) and Dino Ciccarelli (14 in 16 GP) for the most in NHL history.
* Johnny Gaudreau is set to make his debut for the Blue Jackets against the Hurricanes after signing with the club in the offseason. Just eight players have collected multiple points in their franchise debut with Columbus, highlighted by Artemi Panarin – the only skater to register three points in that scenario (0-3—3 on Oct. 6, 2017).
* Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs travel to the Bell Centre to renew their rivalry with Cole Caufield and the Canadiens. Toronto and Montreal are going head-to-head in a mutual season-opening game for the 20th time in the history of their rivalry – the most among two opponents in NHL history.
* The Avalanche enter a campaign as the defending Stanley Cup champions for the third time and will do so with either Pavel Francouz or offseason acquisition Alexandar Georgiev in the crease – the third straight campaign in which a different goaltender has started the club’s season-opening contest (Philipp Grubauer: 2020-21 & Darcy Kuemper: 2021-22).
* Trevor Zegras, one of the NHL 23 Cover Athletes, guides the Ducks into the 2022-23 campaign against the Kraken, who begin their second NHL season at Honda Center. Wednesday will be Zegras’ 100th career contest – he has amassed 26-48—74 through 99 games to date. Among players to debut with the franchise, only two have recorded more points through their 100th game: Paul Kariya (47-56—103) and Bobby Ryan (40-35—75).
* Connor McDavid’s pursuit of a third consecutive 100-point campaign and sixth of his career begins against a familiar foe, the Canucks – an opponent the Oilers have shared a mutual season-opening game against in each of the past four seasons. Edmonton and Vancouver are the fifth set of teams in NHL history to meet in four or more consecutive season-opening games.
XHEKAJ SET TO MAKE DEBUT AFTER UNIQUE PATH TO NHL
Arber Xhekaj is expected to make his NHL debut Wednesday when the Canadiens host the Maple Leafs in their season opener. Xhekaj’s path to the NHL was carved through his tenacity – four years ago he was playing Jr. B after going undrafted twice in the OHL and during the pandemic, when he had nowhere to play, he worked at Costco in his hometown of Hamilton, Ont. Three months after leaving Costco, Xhekaj signed with the Canadiens as a free agent on Oct. 4, 2021.
* Xhekaj, the son of immigrant parents with his father from Kosovo and mother from Czechia, was a key part in helping his hometown Hamilton Bulldogs win an OHL championship in 2021-22, playing big minutes through their run. The defenseman concluded his OHL career with 20-34—54 and 265 penalty minutes in 161 games.