Chris Kreider broke a tie halfway through the third period to lead the New York Rangers to a 5-2 victory against their crosstown rival New York Islanders in their season opener at Madison Square Garden Thursday night.

Rangers Hold Off Islanders For 5-3 Win In Opener

Michael Grabner, Mats Zuccarello, Brandon Pirri and J.T. Miller also scored and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers, who got the win after blowing a two-goal lead earlier in the third period. The Rangers were 0-3-1 against the Islanders last season.

“Just for the team, it was a really good effort,” Kreider said. “A couple of lapses in terms of our rush coverage, but you see some of the things that we struggled with last year that we’re really honed in and focusing on right from the get-go, which is a great sign. You see us playing fast again.”

Nick Leddy, Cal Clutterbuck and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak, who didn’t play after March 8 last season due to a groin injury, made 34 saves.

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Grabner opened scoring 13:41 into the game. Pirri took a wrist shot from between the circles that Halak stopped, but Grabner, a former Islanders forward, was just inside the crease and knocked in the rebound to make it 1-0.

Zuccarello made it 2-0 at 17:41 of the second. Defenseman Brady Skjei took the puck at the right point and fed Zuccarello at the right circle, where his backhand shot caromed off the skate of Islanders forward Ryan Strome and into the net.

Leddy netted the Islanders’ first goal 47 seconds into the third period after taking a pass from Casey Cizikas and firing a wrist shot from the left circle past Lundqvist.

Clutterbuck tied it at 4:04 of the third. With the teams at even strength, Clutterbuck drove to the net and redirected Nikolay Kulemin’s shot off the left wing past Lundqvist to make it 2-2.

However, Kreider came in to save the day and broke the tie at 9:45 of the third, when rookie Pavel Buchnevich sent him on a breakaway with a strong feed along the right-wing boards. Kreider maneuvered around defenseman Travis Hamonic and beat Halak with a backhand shot.

Pirri then re-gave the Rangers their two-goal lead with a power-play goal at 16:11 of the third. With Islanders captain John Tavares serving a holding penalty, Pirri took a no-look backhand pass from Kreider and fired a one-timer from the right circle to beat Halak and make it 4-2.

Miller scored the final goal, an empty-netter, with 2:23 left.

Nelson scored the Islanders’ third goal with 1:35 remaining, but by then it was already too little, too late.

“We did some good things, but didn’t get the result we wanted,” Tavares said.

The Rangers, on the other hand, seemed content with their overall performance in the opener.

“We’re a fast team. It was a lot of fun playing tonight,” said Pirri. “If we’re solid defensively, with the speed and skill we have, it’s going to make it hard on the opponent every night.”

The Islanders felt differently from the way they had in all four games against the Rangers last season.

“I think it’s a big game and that might be a little disappointing for me, just looking that some of the guys that didn’t play with the intensity that we wanted,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “If you can’t get up for this one, it’s tough. I thought it was a good hockey game, I thought both teams played well. They got some breaks when they needed them. We come back, we tie it, then Kreider gets behind us.”

The Islanders will next visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The Rangers, meanwhile, will visit the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 13: Travis Hamonic #3 of the New York Islanders is checked by J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 13, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Islanders 5-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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