RANGERS (3-7-0) at ISLANDERS (4-4-3)
TV: MSG, MSG PLUS
Last 10: Islanders 3-4-3.
Season series: This is the first of five meetings between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. This will be the only showdown at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum; the Jan. 29 extravaganza at Yankee Stadium is considered a home game for the Islanders.
Big story: Thomas Vanek makes his debut for the Islanders on Tuesday night after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday in exchange for left wing Matt Moulson, a first-round pick at the 2014 NHL Draft and a second-round selection in 2015.
"I'm just happy to be here right now, taking it all in," Vanek said of the chance to play with Tavares, a Hart Trophy finalist last season. "An opportunity like that doesn't come around much, so I'm going try to make the most of it."
Rangers: After spending the first nine games of their season on the road, the Rangers finally had an opportunity to play at home Monday night. One home game into their season, they’re still looking for their first goal at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers came up empty against backup goalie Peter Budaj (27 saves) and the Montreal Canadiens in a 2-0 loss. Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk scored for Montreal. Henrik Lundqvist, playing for the first time in nine days due to an undisclosed injury, made 25 saves in the loss.
“It’s fun to play here again. I think we did a lot of good things,” Lundqvist said. “We just hoped for an early goal for us to get the energy and confidence and get the building going. It was kind of a tight game. It was a disappointing loss, but it was great to be back.”
Islanders: General manager Garth Snow sent a message to his locker room Sunday: Four wins in 11 games won’t cut it.
Searching for more consistency from his roster, Snow traded Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer, and two draft picks for Vanek, who, along with Tavares, could provide one of the more dynamic combinations in the NHL.
Tavares is certainly disappointed to see Moulson go, but he knows the skill level Vanek possesses and is looking forward to creating havoc on opponents. Vanek had 20 goals in 38 games for Buffalo last season.
"A tremendous player with the puck," Tavares said of Vanek. "Great patience and deception around the net. I think everyone saw how he started off, how hot he was last season and how much he can dominate a game. We're excited to have him. He's been in the League and proven himself. He has a great skill set."
Who's hot: Frans Nielsen leads the Islanders with 15 points in 11 games. He has scored a goal in four straight games. Tavares carries a 10-game point streak into Tuesday, while Okposo has a point in five straight and eight of the past nine. Vanek had a goal and three assists over his final four games with Buffalo.
Injury report: Rangers forward Carl Hagelin (shoulder) is expected to make his season debut Tuesday. Jesper Fast was returned to Hartford in the American Hockey League on Monday night to make room for Hagelin. Captain Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) could be out until mid-November and forward Rick Nash (concussion) is out indefinitely. … Defenseman Lubormir Visnovsky (concussion) is out for the Islanders. Brian Strait (upper body) is day-to-day. Neither practiced Monday.
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