Launch of the NHL season on two continents

“Obviously it’s nice to see the puck come in,” Zibanejad said. “But it’s much nicer to get that win and get that good start. And not just the win, but the way we won today and the way we played, I thought was good for us.

Power clubs delivered the same kind of speed and physical intensity that marked their encounter in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

In this series, the Lightning have recovered considerably from a 2-0 series deficit. Coach Jon Cooper’s side have won four games in a row against Rangers, securing a two-goal performance from captain Steven Stamkos in the clincher 2-1 in game six. However, Tampa Bay’s reign as two-time Stanley Cup champions would come to an end as they lost the Finals in six games to Colorado.

The season opener was also billed as a rematch between two of the NHL’s most athletic and technically skilled goaltenders, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevski and New York’s Igor Shestyorkin.

Vasilevski, 28, won the 2019 Vezina Trophy and the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy, while Shestyorkin, 26, won his first Vezina with an outstanding 2.07 GAA and 93.5 save percentage. It was the third-highest save percentage in history among goaltenders who played at least 50 games, behind Boston’s Tim Thomas (93.8, 2011) and Buffalo’s Dominik Hasek (93.7, 1999).

Here, Vasilevski did his best to keep the Bolts in play, as shots edged Rangers 39-26, but Shestyorkin came away with the win.

Zibanejad scored a spectacular shorthanded goal early in the second period to draw first blood. The Swedish star’s backhand gesture recalls the 1-0 overtime winner he scored against Russia’s Andrei Makarov in the gold medal game at the 2012 World Juniors in Calgary. Zibanejad, 29, also won Worlds gold in 2018.

Stamkos tied the score with a one-time power play near the halfway point. However, in the final stanza, Zibanejad fired back with a one-timer PP of his own. Barclay Goodrow – who earned two Cup rings as the Bolts third line before being traded to Rangers – added some confidence with a nice tip nine minutes from time.

Then Mark Stone’s lightning wrist with less than a minute left gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The Vegas captain was the 2019 Worlds MVP with Canada’s silver medal-winning squad in Bratislava.