Alexis Lafreniere Nets Game-Winner In Hometown In Rangers’ First Victory of 2021-22

Alexis Lafreniere celebrates his game-winning goal with his New York Rangers teammates on Saturday night

Photo credit: Google Images/ AP

Alexis Lafreniere celebrates his game-winning goal with his New York Rangers teammates on Saturday night

Video Credit: Sportsnet YouTube channel

Carter Bentivenga, Managing Editor

The New York Rangers are in the win column for the first time in the 2021-22 season, as they picked up a 3-1 victory on the road against the Montreal Canadiens. 

Chris Kreider scored for the third consecutive game, and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for the visiting Rangers (1-1-1). This game also marked the first win for Gerard Gallant as head coach. But understandably, all eyes were pointed elsewhere. 

Alexis Lafreniere, the Rangers’ prized first-overall pick from the 2020 Entry Draft, is a native of Saint-Eustache, Quebec- just less than an hour away from Montreal. He grew up going to Canadiens games at the prestigious Bell Centre, with his dream of one day skating on that same ice. Saturday night also marked the first time the Rangers had a game north of the border since before Lafreniere was drafted, as the pandemic forced the league to only play divisional games last season for Lafreniere’s rookie campaign. So with that, plus the fact that his family and friends would be in the building, it was shaping up to be a special night for the 20-year-old. 

 

That’s what made his game-winning goal in the third period such a big deal. 

 

Lafreniere corralled a pass from linemate Mika Zibanejad for a tap-in goal to give the Rangers the lead, only 26 seconds after Jonathan Drouin had scored for the home team. Kevin Rooney gave New York an insurance marker by hitting an empty net with around 10 seconds to go. 

“Obviously to score in Montreal, it’s pretty fun,” said the home-town hero Lafreniere. “The team played well. You know, a great effort, and obviously a nice pass by Mika on the goal. It’s hard to imagine anything better. It was a really nice effort by the whole team.” 

Zibanejad had a lot of praise for his linemate following the victory. “He didn’t look nervous at all,” Zibanejad said. “Obviously first time here and a sold-out crowd. It’s an amazing building to play in and it’s a lot of fun to come here. The way he handled himself and the way he played, I’m super, super happy.”

Lafreniere and the Rangers will look to string together their first win streak of the season as they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night. The Canadiens (0-3-0) will seek their first win of the season as they host the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.