Tarasenko thrills crowd with goal in Rangers debut

Vladimir Tarasenko instantly scores in his Rangers debut (0:42)

Artemi Panarin sets up Vladimir Tarasenko for his first goal with the New York Rangers. (0:42)

Feb 10, 2023

  • ESPN News Services

NEW YORK — Vladimir Tarasenko was still caught in the whirlwind of being traded for the first time when he put an emphatic stamp on his first game with the New York Rangers.

The 31-year-old Russian forward scored early in his New York debut, Kaapo Kakko and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and an assist, and the Rangers beat the Seattle Kraken 6-3 on Friday night for their fourth straight win.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this in my life. It’s my first time getting traded in the NHL, like I spent 11 years in one city,″ Tarasenko said. “The guys give us a very warm welcome. … Crazy day though.”

Tarasenko paid quick dividends in his first game with his new team, converting a pass from fellow Russian Artemi Panarin past Martin Jones just 2:49 into the contest. It was his 11th goal of the season and sent the home crowd into hysterics with many thunderously chanting Tarasenko’s name.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Tarasenko is the second NHL player over the past five seasons to be acquired in a midseason trade and score less than three minutes into his debut with his new team. Dominik Kahun scored 2:16 into his Buffalo Sabres debut on Feb. 28, 2020, after being traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Obviously, it’s nice to connect for a goal,″ Tarasenko said of receiving the pass from Panarin. “We hope more are coming and we play well every game.”

Tarasenko said it took him by surprise to hear his name echoing throughout his new home rink after he scored.

“I was thinking I was mishearing,” he said. “It’s different because as a visitor you really don’t hear the crowd. This was exciting!”

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant was succinct in his appraisal of Tarasenko, a six-time 30-plus goal scorer.

“He’s excited to play, he’s a great hockey player,” Gallant said. “He’s going to help our team.”

Only three previous Rangers have scored within the opening three minutes of their debuts: Norm Lowe (1:00 on Feb. 26, 1950), current Islanders coach Lane Lambert (2:28 on Dec. 10, 1986) and Mike Allison (2:44 on Oct. 9, 1980).

Ryan Lindgren also had a goal and an assist, and Jacob Trouba and Mika Zibanejad also scored for the Rangers, who have won five straight at home and are 12-3-0 in their past 15 at Madison Square Garden. Igor Shesterkin had 26 saves to improve to 13-4-4 in his past 21 starts.

The Rangers are 19-4-3 since Dec. 5, when their season turned with a 6-4 home win over the St. Louis Blues, who traded Tarasenko and defenseman Niko Mikkola to New York on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.