NEW YORK (AP)Vladimir Tarasenko was still caught in the whirlwind of being traded for the first time when he put an emphatic stamp on his first game with the New York Rangers.
The 31-year-old Russian forward scored early in his New York debut, Kaapo Kakko and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist, and the Rangers beat the Seattle Kraken 6-3 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.
”I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this in my life. It’s my first time getting traded in the NHL, like I spent 11 years in one city,? Tarasenko said. ”The guys give us a very warm welcome … Crazy day though.”
Ryan Lindgren also had a goal and an assist, and Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad also scored for the Rangers, who have won five straight at home and are 12-3-0 in their last 15 at Madison Square Garden. Igor Shesterkin had 26 saves to improve to 13-4-4 in his last 21 starts.
The Rangers are 19-4-3 since Dec. 5, when their season turned with a 6-4 home win over St. Louis, who traded Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to New York on Thursday.
Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist, and Brandon Tanev and Jared McCann also scored for Seattle, who lost all three games against New York area teams this week. Vince Dunn had two assists and Martin Jones had 22 saves.
Tarasenko paid quick dividends in his first game with his new team, converting a pass from fellow Russian Artemi Panarin past Jones just 2:49 into the contest. It was his 11th goal of the season and sent the home crowd into hysterics with many thunderously chanting Tarasenko’s name.
”Obviously it’s nice to connect for a goal,? Tarasenko said of receiving the pass from Panarin. ”We hope more are coming and we play well every game.”
Tarasenko said it took him by surprise to hear his name echoing throughout his new home rink after he scored.
”I was thinking I was mishearing,” he said. ”It’s different because as a visitor you really don’t hear the crowd. This was exciting!”
Kakko made it 2-0 at 5:01 with 10th goal, assisted by linemates Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere. Kakko has a career-high of 26 points – including a career high-tying 10 goals – and Lafreniere has points in six of his last seven games.
Trocheck scored his 15th with 5:31 left in the first and Trouba extended the margin to 4-0 at 1:03 of the second with his fourth.
Bjorkstrand put the Kraken on the scoreboard at 2:07 of the second with his 10th goal.
Zibanejad scored his team-leading 26th on the power play at 3:19 of the third to restore the Rangers’ four-goal lead.
McCann scored his team-leading 24th at 5:59 of the third and Tanev made it 5-3 just 22 seconds later.
”We dug ourselves too much of a hole,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. ”They are big and they are fast. They were good at puck retrieval and keeping plays alive.”
Lindgren added his short-handed empty-netter with 2:09 left to cap the scoring.
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was succinct in his appraisal of Tarasenko, a six-time 30-plus goal scorer.
”He’s excited to play, he’s a great hockey player,” Gallant said. ”He’s going to help our team.”
Only three previous Rangers have scored within the opening three minutes of their debuts: Norm Lowe (1:00 on Feb. 26, 1950), current Islanders coach Lane Lambert (2:28 on Dec. 10, 1986) and Mike Allison (2:44 on Oct. 9, 1980).
Tarasenko skated on the right wing on a line with Zibanejad at center and Panarin on left wing. The 31-year-old forward played 11 seasons with the Blues where he had 262 goals in 644 games. He had a career-best 40 goals in 2015-16. … Mikkola played on a defense pairing with Braden Schneider.
Kraken: At Philadelphia on Sunday.
Rangers: At Carolina on Saturday night.
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