NEW YORK (AP) — Joffrey Lupul and Clarke MacArthur scored 4:22 apart in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs broke open a tie game and spoiled the New York Rangers’ long-awaited return to renovated Madison Square Garden with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night.
Lupul scored off a rebound in a scrum in front of Henrik Lundqvist to make it 2-1 with his fifth of the season, and MacArthur made it a two-goal edge with his first — firing a shot from the left circle during a 2-on-1 break that eluded Lundqvist’s leg at 6:33.
Matthew Lombardi scored his first in the second period, and Mike Brown made it 4-1 in the third.
Dan Girardi scored in the first, and Michael Del Zotto got it to 4-2 with 4:34 remaining for the Rangers, who went 3-2-2 on a season-starting road trip because of the work being done at their home rink. New York’s home opener, the last in the NHL, kicked off a six-game homestand. It was the Rangers’ fifth straight game against a Canadian opponent.
Lundqvist finished with 32 saves, and counterpart Jonas Gustavsson stopped 28 shots for the Maple Leafs (5-2-1).
While the renovations created a distinct new look at MSG, the crowd was noticeably quiet throughout, even during pregame introductions. One banner hung from the upper level in support of exiled forward Sean Avery, who has been sent to Hartford of the AHL. Chants of “We want Avery” broke out in the third period once the outcome was no longer in doubt.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead and took a season-high 16 shots in the first period, but it was a pair of goals that didn’t count that stood out.
New York was already in front on Girardi’s goal 6:23 in when Ryan Callahan appeared to double the advantage at 9:45 when he deflected a shot by Del Zotto. Callahan was crowding the crease and was shoved into Gustavsson when Del Zotto’s drive from the left circle arrived. The goal was immediately waved off.
The Rangers were turned aside again by the officials with Callahan in the center of the action. With 7:27 left, the New York captain crashed net in pursuit of a rebound. The puck bounced in front, and Brandon Dubinsky’s return shot was stopped. Callahan knocked over Gustavsson, and the puck got past the goalie.
Again no penalty was called, and Rangers coach John Tortorella sported an incredulous look as he was given an explanation.
In between the two no-goals, Lundqvist protected the slim advantage when he made a right pad save to turn away Phil Kessel — set up by new centerman Tim Connolly. Kessel, the NHL leader so far in goals and points, didn’t get everything on the shot that was stopped by Lundqvist as he slid to his right across the crease.
Both teams shortchanged power plays by taking penalties. The Rangers couldn’t convert on an abbreviated 4-on-3 advantage.
Toronto shook off its 16-10 shots advantage in the first and reversed it in the second when the Maple Leafs outshot the Rangers 16-7 and got even at 1.
They needed just 1:20 to get the tying goal from Lombardi on a drive Lundqvist would likely want back. Lombardi took a pass from Tyler Bozak and snapped a shot from the left circle that squeezed past Lundqvist’s blocker, under his arm and into the net.
Toronto controlled the action throughout the period and had several quality scoring chances — including two that were thwarted by saves by Rangers defensemen.
Michael Sauer threw his body down in the crease to keep the puck out with 6:11 left in the second, and Dan Girardi did the same with 2:05 remaining.
The best stop, however, belonged to Lundqvist who turned away Kessel on a breakaway. After Kessel made a quick deke in front, but Lundqvist blocked the shot with his right pad and then gloved a fluttering drive off the rebound by Mikhail Grabovski.
NOTES: Sauer returned after missing five games (shoulder). D Jeff Woywitka and C Mike Rupp (knee) were scratched. — Connolly (upper body) made his season debut, centering Toronto’s top line between Kessel and Lupul. With Connolly and Bozak back, C Nazem Kadri was sent to Toronto of the AHL. Bozak missed two games (foot). The Maple Leafs recalled G Ben Scrivens from Toronto to back up Gustavsson while James Reimer recovers from a whiplash injury sustained Saturday. — The Rangers’ previous high for shots in a period was 14 in the first on Oct. 15 at the Islanders.