The player to whom No. 1 overall pick Alexis Lafreniere is most often compared is Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who, like Lafreniere, was considered a generational talent when he was taken first overall in the 2005 draft.
Crosby was the first player to be named Player of the Year in the Canadian Hockey League twice. Lafreniere was the second. The two also happen to have played for the same junior team, Rimouski, of the QMHJL.
On Friday, Lafreniere got to play against Crosby for the first time in the NHL.
"Obviously, he was one of my idols growing up, a big role model for me,’’ Lafreniere said before the game. "So for sure, it’s really special and I’m really excited for this game. I will just try to enjoy it and try to play as well as I can.’’
Lafreniere, 19, was on the first line Friday with center Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, who shifted from left wing to right wing.
"We have moved him around, but we haven’t moved him from first line to the fourth line,’’ coach David Quinn said of Lafreniere. "He continues to move forward. He earns it.’’
Lafreniere, who started the season on the third line and played two games on the second line, hasn’t scored a point through his first four games. He said he isn’t stressed out by that.
"It’s a new league and new teammates [and] linemates,’’ he said. "I’m still trying to adjust to that. But I think I’ll still get better and I’ll try to get on the scoresheet for sure.’’
Notes & quotes: Artemi Panarin’s assist on Adam Fox’s power-play goal was his 100th point as a Ranger in his 73rd game, breaking the record for fewest games to 100 points. Mark Messier had done it in 74 games . . . Forward Kevin Rooney, who left the season opener after a hard collision with the Islanders’ Ross Johnston, returned to the lineup. Julien Gauthier was scratched . . . Also Thursday, forward Morgan Barron and defenseman Matthew Robertson were assigned to AHL Hartford, which will open its training camp next week.