Sometimes, the NHL schedule works out perfectly. Thursday ranks as one of those examples, as Patrick Kane debuted for the New York Rangers during the same game Jakob Chychrun played his first contest in an Ottawa Senators uniform. Although the Rangers entered the third period with a 3-2 lead, the Senators surged to a 5-3 win.
This marks four straight wins for the Senators, who need to finish very strong to make the Chychrun trade about the present — not just the future.
Neither Kane nor Chychrun scored in their respective debuts. Here’s an additional look at how their first nights went not long after both trade deadline headliners were dealt.
Speaking of looks, here are some initial peeks at those prominent players in new duds:
— NHL (@NHL) March 3, 2023
Injury scare for Chychrun, Senators stay hot
Due to being a healthy scratch for “trade-related reasons,” Chychrun had been out of action since Feb. 10. He came into Thursday with 28 points in 36 games this season. While Chychrun must have felt rusty, it also seemed to get a little dusty in there amid an interview explaining how it felt to join the Senators.
"Not gonna lie, it was a little tough to hold back the tears"
Jakob Chychrun on his the trade to the Senators. pic.twitter.com/FZoOx8sN0a
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 3, 2023
Midway through the third period, Chychrun got tangled up with Filip Chytil, and was attended to by a trainer. On the bright side, Chychrun left the ice under his own power, flexing his right leg. After testing that leg out, Chychrun was able to play during that same final frame. While sometimes a player will grit through pain only to miss time with an injury later on, it’s a promising sign that he was able to return after a significant scare.
The 24-year-old has dealt with more than a few injuries already in his career, so the Senators have to hope he’ll have better luck than he did in Arizona.
Chychrun ended up logging 19:16 time on ice (including 1:56 on the power play and 3:14 shorthanded). Through his first game, Chychrun paired up most often with Nick Holden. Although Chychrun is capable of playing on the right side, it will be interesting to see if that ends up being the best fit for a Senators defense that looks heavy on left-handed shots.
Overall, the Senators won on the strength of other big name additions. Claude Giroux powered the comeback with three points (one goal, two assists), perhaps saying thank you to Ottawa’s front office for the Chychrun trade.
Trading what might be the sixth overall pick in a loaded draft for Jakob Chychrun does have strong "satisfying the short-term needs of Claude Giroux" energy. Please note their contracts end in the same season. https://t.co/3x1brIfUoW
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) March 2, 2023
Maybe fittingly, faces from a Senators-Rangers trade from many years ago loomed large. In his 1,000th NHL game, Derick Brassard scored two goals, and nearly made it three on an empty net. Brassard’s trade counterpart Mika Zibanejad collected two assists of his own, but it was not enough.
Kane creates chances, but no production in Rangers debut
As expected, Patrick Kane spent most of his even-strength shifts with former Blackhawks teammate Artemi Panarin on a line centered by Vincent Trocheck. Kane logged almost 20 minutes of ice time (19:36) in his Rangers debut, including a whopping 5:58 on the power play. We’ll see if the Rangers tinker as time goes along, but against the Senators, they loaded up with a top PP unit of Kane, Panarin, Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox.
At the end of the day, Kane couldn’t score a goal or grab an assist, but he did fire four shots on net. His minus-2 rating isn’t anything to be alarmed about, especially since he was on the ice for an empty-netter allowed.
Kane had an interesting moment with former teammate Alex DeBrincat, too.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) March 2, 2023
The Senators stand among four Eastern Conference bubble teams at 66 standings points, with only the Sabres having more games remaining on their schedule (22) than Ottawa’s 21. It isn’t likely to be an easy race for a playoff spot, yet Ottawa’s recent surge gives the Sens at least an outside chance.
For the Rangers, it’s all about fine-tuning with 20 games left in the regular season. They’re nearly certain to face the Devils in the first round, and from the look of things, the series will probably begin in New Jersey.
By then, maybe Patrick Kane will be fully on the same page as his new team.