He took care of that in this year's season opener, stopping 20
shots in the Montreal Canadiens' 4-1 victory that spoiled the
Rangers' home opener Friday night.
Theodore was the league MVP, the Vezina Trophy winner and the
goalie who helped end the Canadiens' three-year playoff drought a
season ago. He was also the guy that went 0-4 against New York.
"The first win is never easy to get, especially here in New
York,'' said Theodore, who won 30 games against the rest of the NHL
last season. "Whatever happened last year, we just forget about
it. Each year's a new season, we've got some different players and
we just want to start in the right direction.''
Yanic Perreault had a goal and an assist during Montreal's
three-goal second period that turned around an early 1-0 deficit.
"The first period was awful, we didn't play well at all,''
Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "It could've been 2 or 3-0. But
in the second we were able to cut down on mistakes and then able to
score some goals.''
Rangers coach Bryan Trottier, who had a Hall of Fame playing
career with the rival New York Islanders, received cheers with a
smattering of boos when introduced during ceremonies before his
first home game with his new team.
"There was a blinding bright light on me,'' Trottier said. "I
appreciate the applause and I felt welcome.''
New York played without high-scoring forward Pavel Bure for the
second straight game. Bure has recovered from a preseason knee
injury, but is out now because of strep throat. He is not expected
to play at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, and his return for Tuesday
night's home game against Toronto is questionable.
The Rangers got by without him fine Wednesday during a 4-1
season-opening win at Carolina, but his speed was missed against
the quicker Canadiens. When the Rangers made a mistake, Montreal
was there to capitalize.
"Over the 60-minute period of a game you're going to make some,
but unfortunately they made us pay for those and we were unable to
come back,'' said Petr Nedved, who scored twice in New York's
The tide turned in the second period when the Canadiens outshot
New York 10-3.
Richard Zednik tied it at 1 just 1:45 into the period when he
took a drop pass from Stephane Quintal and beat Mike Richter to the
stick side. Joe Juneau gave Montreal its first lead of the season
at 9:07, after a brilliant defensive play by teammate Andrei Markov
at the opposite end.
Markov kept the game tied by swatting away a loose puck that got
behind Theodore. The Canadiens quickly reversed up ice and got off
two good shots, one by Perreault, that were turned away by Richter.
But the second save came out the right side, and Juneau deposited
the puck into an empty net to make it 2-1.
Perreault scored 3:32 later on a perfect tip-in off a shot by
Markov from the point. The Rangers had killed off 11 straight power
plays, including nine at Carolina, before that goal.
"In the third and second we played a solid game,'' Theodore
said. "If we play that way, we're going to be hard to beat.''
New York took a 1-0 lead 8:56 in when Mikael Samuelsson used
Quintal as a screen and beat Theodore with a wrist shot.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg conducted the ceremonial
faceoff. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was also in attendance. ...
The Rangers have started 2-0 only twice since 1983. ... Czerkawski
made his Montreal debut and played in his 216th consecutive game
despite being slowed earlier in the week by a sore hamstring. ...
The Canadiens, who have been in New York since Tuesday, will play
their home opener on Saturday. ... Montreal, which held a 26-21
shots advantage, finished 1-for-7 on the power play. New York was
0-for-4 and is 1-for-13 this season.