Lafreniere helps Rangers get first win, spoil Canadiens home opener

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MONTREAL — Alexis Lafreniere broke a tie in the third period, and the New York Rangers spoiled the Montreal Canadiens’ home opener with a 3-1 win at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Chris Kreider scored for the third straight game, Mika Zibanejad had two assists, and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for New York (1-1-1).

Jonathan Drouin scored, and Jake Allen made 21 saves for Montreal (0-3-0), which hosted its first capacity crowd since March 10, 2020.

Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft from nearby Saint-Eustache, Quebec, scored on a 2-on-1, deflecting a pass from Zibanejad to put the Rangers up 2-1 at 9:50.

The goal, with Lafreniere’s family looking on from a suite, came 26 seconds after the Canadiens tied the game.

Drouin drew Montreal even 1-1 at 9:24 when he deked and scored from the goalmouth on a backhand after he was left unmarked to receive a centering pass from Christian Dvorak, who carried the puck behind the goal.

Kevin Rooney scored into an empty net at 19:50 for the 3-1 final.

The Canadiens are on their longest losing streak to open a season since they lost their first five games in 1995-96.

Kreider gave New York a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 9:59 of the second period. He was positioned in front of the net for a deflection when Zibanejad’s pass into the goalmouth caromed off his skate and Montreal defenseman Alexander Romanov‘s skate into the net.

The Canadiens were 0-for-3 on the power play and have not scored with the man-advantage through their first 11 opportunities.

Rangers forward Kaapo Kakko sustained an upper-body injury in the first period. New York was without forward Ryan Strome, who is in the COVID-19 Protocol.

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