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Rangers hold off Blackhawks to earn opening night win

New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24) celebrates

New York Rangers center Oscar Lindberg (24) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period of a game Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, in Chicago. Credit: AP / Nam Y. Huh

CHICAGO -- After waiting for 45 minutes in the visitors' locker room while the Blackhawks and their fans celebrated the raising of the Stanley Cup championship banner in the United Center Wednesday night, Henrik Lundqvist was antsy -- and angry.

Listening to the ceremony, said Lundqvist, "made me a little bit upset, so you want to go out there and pay back."

The goaltender, who had been sharp during the preseason, brought those emotions onto the ice, and his 32 saves -- 14 in the third period as the Hawks controlled the play -- helped the Rangers hang on for a 3-2 win in the season opener Wednesday night.

"I don't know how players prepare themselves," said coach Alain Vigneault. "When the puck dropped, I thought we were real good in the first period, but we lost momentum a bit with some turnovers."

With a minute left, Lundqvist stopped Hawks captain Jonathan Toews' close-in shot and held it under his pad. The whistle blew, but Toews poked the puck under the pad over the goal line. The goal was waved off and a video review was inconclusive.

"I feel the puck underneath the pads, so I feel it was a good call," said Lundqvist, who said he heard the whistle "before the puck went in."

The Rangers had sailed out of the gates quickly after the long banner-raising ceremony. Rookie Oscar Lindberg, centering the third line, rifled in his first NHL goal just 1:43 into the game, off passes from Viktor Stalberg and J.T. Miller. "I think that killed the atmosphere a little bit," said Lundqvist.

With Mats Zuccarello in the box for holding at 6:19, Lundqvist kept the Hawks from tying the game with several saves, including a beauty on a high shot from Artem Anisimov.

The Hawks answered when Dan Boyle and Marc Staal got crossed up on a developing rush. Toews fed rookie Artemi Panarin alone in front, and the rookie beat Lundqvist to his glove side at 14:24.

But the Rangers speed created two goals in 2:23. Kevin Klein ripped a one-timer from below the left dot on a setup from Keith Yandle at the point for a 2-1 lead and Miller notched his second assist of the night. Then with 59 seconds left in the first, Kevin Hayes missed the net on a pass from Chris Kreider on an odd-man rush, but recovered behind the goal line and flipped the puck in front, where Derek Stepan was alone in the crease that Crawford vacated for a 3-1 lead.

With the Blueshirts ahead 3-1 in the second period, Dan Girardi's turnover along the right wall allowed a tic-tac-toe pass to Teuvo Teravainen, and the Hawks closed to 3-2 at 6:55, and the Rangers kept the Hawks at bay for the remaining 13 minutes. They were a step behind all period, as the Hawks controlled the puck.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville shortened his bench in the third, going with 10 forwards.

"They had a lot of time spent in our zone, we were pretty sloppy with the puck," said Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, "not connecting the dots as well as we'd like to. It's something to work on. But we had a good first period and took advantage of our opportunities."

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