NEW YORK – The sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden came to cheer Marian Gaborik, the New York Rangers’ major free-agent signing over the summer, only to see him upstaged by linemates Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal.
Dubinsky scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves Saturday to help the Rangers win their home opener, 5-2 over the Ottawa Senators.
Gaborik scored for a second straight game, a goal that padded the Rangers lead to 4-1 after his linemates had already done the heavy lifting. He likes the offensive potential the Rangers have shown in their first two games.
“I think our lines have a lot of speed and we can handle the puck down low,” Gaborik said. “We create a lot of chances.”
On this night, Dubinsky was the finisher.
“I think we just try to do a good job of working, trying to get each other the puck and trying to get open,” Dubinsky said. “When you have the skill level our line does, you are going to get some goals.”
The Rangers rebounded from a 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Friday night in their opener with the rare home win over the Senators, 16-4-1 in their previous 21 visits to Madison Square Garden.
Daniel Alfreddson and Peter Regin scored in the Senators’ season opener. Pascal Leclaire, making his first start since undergoing ankle surgery last December, made 29 saves in his Ottawa debut.
Prospal, Dubinsky and Michael Del Zotto staked the Rangers to a 3-1 lead in the second period.
Prospal got the first tally at 3:20, rifling a shot under the crossbar. Dubinsky, on a feed from Gaborik, beat Leclaire to the glove side at 10:00, giving New York a 2-0 advantage.
Alfredsson, all alone in the slot as the trailer on an Ottawa rush, converted a centering feed from Jason Spezza at 15:36 to cut the Rangers lead to 2-1.
New York went back up by two when Del Zotto, a 19-year-old rookie defenseman, got his first NHL goal on a point shot as Ryan Callahan provided an effective screen with 51 seconds remaining.
“I felt a little bit more comfortable out there tonight getting the first one out of the way,” Del Zotto said. “It was a great night overall and a night I will never forget.”
In the third, Gaborik cleaned up the rebound on Dubinsky’s breakaway at 12:04. Dubinsky got his second, a short-hander into an empty net, at 18:52.
Regin closed out the scoring with six seconds remaining.
The Rangers could not dent Leclaire in a scoreless first period despite a 3-0 advantage in power plays. Prospal came closest to connecting, denied by a Leclaire pad save. At the other end, Lundqvist make a sharp glove stop on Matt Carkner in the closing minutes.
“We hurt ourselves by taking a lot of penalties,” Spezza said. “They brought a better structure to their home opener. We were kind of scrambly.”
NOTES: Rangers LW Sean Avery remains sidelined by a sprained MCL in his right knee. … Ottawa C Mike Fisher missed a day of practice this week but was in the lineup. … It marked the first time the Senators played the Rangers in a season opener. … The Blue Man Group from Broadway provided pre-game entertainment. … The Rangers are unbeaten in their last five home openers. … Del Zotto is the first teenager to score for the Rangers since Manny Malhotra in 1998. … Prospal’s goal was his 600th point. … The two goals and three points equaled Dubinsky’s single-game highs.