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Rangers triumph over Jets in back-and-forth game

AP, Reuters

Brett Howden broke a tie with 4:09 remaining, and the New York Rangers beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-4 in a wild season opener on Thursday night.

Mika Zibanejad had a goal and three assists, Jacob Trouba had a goal and two assists, and Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for New York. Marc Staal also scored for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist — making his 14th consecutive opening-day start — stopped 43 shots.

On the go-ahead goal, Jesper Fast fired a shot from the left point that was blocked by former Ranger Neal Pionk. The puck went to Howden, who scored to give New York its fourth lead of the game.

The Jets went on their fifth power play with 1:37 left, and were skating with a 6-on-4 advantage when Brendan Smith scored into the empty net with 17 seconds remaining to seal the Rangers’ win.

Blake Wheeler had two goals, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor also scored and Nikolaj Ehlers had three assists for the Jets. Connor Hellebuyck finished with 26 saves.

Connor gave Winnipeg its first lead of the game, 4-3, with a power-play goal at 2:41 of the third as he tipped Josh Morissey’s shot through Lundqvist’s legs. Patrik Laine also had an assist on the goal.

Lightning 5, Panthers 2

In Tampa, reigning NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov tallied a goal and an assist, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded 35 saves to lead the Lightning to a season-opening victory over Florida.

Winners of last year’s Presidents’ Trophy in a 62-16-4 season, Tampa Bay never trailed and pulled away by scoring three times in the third period for their eighth straight win in a home opener.

Kevin Shattenkirk, Ondrej Palat, Pat Maroon and Erik Cernak notched goals. Mikhail Sergachev contributed three assists while Alex Killorn added two for the Lightning.

Vincent Trocheck scored and had an assist, and Mike Hoffman also netted a marker for the Panthers, who lost in the debut of new coach Joel Quenneville.

Bruins 2, Stars 1

In Dallas, Brett Ritchie and Danton Heinen scored in the first six minutes as Boston held off the hosts in both teams’ season opener.

Tuukka Rask had 28 saves as the Bruins began with a victory after losing in Game 7 of last season’s Stanley Cup Final. Boston won the first of four road games to kick off the campaign.

Ducks 2, Coyotes 1

In Anaheim, defenseman Cam Fowler scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period as the Ducks presented head coach Dallas Eakins with a win in his debut.

Fourth-liner Derek Grant also scored and John Gibson finished with 32 saves for the Ducks, who have won each of their last three season openers.

Hurricanes 4, Canadiens 3 (SO)

In Raleigh, North Carolina, Dougie Hamilton scored on the first attempt of the shootout as the Hurricanes beat Montreal.

Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek stopped Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Nick Suzuki in the shootout as Carolina overcame blowing an early 2-0 lead. Mrazek had 33 saves.

Sabres 3, Penguins 1

In Pittsburgh, Conor Sheary scored twice as Buffalo skates past the hosts.

The Sabres snapped a streak of 18 straight games between the two in which the Penguins got at least a point. Rasmus Dahlin also scored for Buffalo, and Casey Mittelstadt had the primary assist on both Sheary goals. Carter Hutton stopped 28 of 29 Penguins shots.

Avalanche 5, Flames 3

In Denver, Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi had two goals each, J.T. Compher also scored, and Colorado topped Calgary as Philipp Grubauer had 27 saves for the Avalanche.

Colorado beat the top-seeded Flames in five games in the first round of the playoffs last spring and continued its mastery over their Western Conference rival in the season opener for both teams.

Predators 5, Wild 2

In Nashville, Mikael Granlund, Austin Watson, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored third-period goals, and Pekka Rinne made 22 saves for the Predators in a victory over Minnesota.

Ryan Ellis had a goal and an assist, and Matt Duchene added three assists for the two-time defending Central Division champion Predators. Nashville earned its sixth consecutive win over the Wild dating back to March 2018.