New York Rangers forward Alex Galchenyuk is one of the best young players in the league, but he won’t have to deal with that same responsibility tonight as he plays his first game in a Jets jersey.
He’ll be looking to build on a strong showing in a preseason game, where he scored his first career NHL goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
“We just have to take our game to the next level,” Galchenyan said.
“We have a good team and I think that’s going to help us out.”
The Rangers have won three straight, a streak they’ve held together for nearly two weeks.
Galchenyk and linemate Taylor Hall are the only players on the roster who are 30 or younger, and the club is hoping the duo can help them win a third straight playoff game.
It will be Galchenys first NHL start, but the 24-year-old hasn’t played since October 1 after injuring his right knee.
He’s played in only three games in his second pro season.
“He’s a great kid and he’s a guy who loves to win and he loves to compete,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
The Jets had lost four straight before beating the Pittsburgh Panthers in the preseason.
Galchyanyuk and Hall have been linemates for most of the season, and they scored in the Jets 4-1 win in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
They each had four shots, and Galchenyauk’s one in the third period put the Jets ahead 2-0.
Galchnyuk has scored at least one goal in each of the past four games, and Hall had two goals and two assists.
The Rangers are 6-1-1 in their past 10 games against New York.
“It’s been a tough couple of games for us, obviously,” coach Peter DeBoer said.
Galcheyanyuki and Hall scored in their first games in their respective NHL teams’ dressing rooms, and both are coming off goals in Thursday’s preseason game.
Galchaik has nine goals and seven assists in 27 games with New York this season.
He has five goals and eight assists in 32 games with the Pittsburgh Flyers.
The NHL is giving players 15 days off from the start of the regular season on Tuesday.
The next day, all players are allowed to wear helmets and gloves during the preseason and playoffs.
The team will also be without defenseman Jason Garrison (broken hand) for three games, as well as forwards Brandon Carlo and Matt Niskanen.
Galchenkoyuk said he’s ready to return to the lineup when the Rangers play their first preseason game on Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden.
He skated in Friday’s preseason finale against the Los Angeles Kings.
“I’ve been practicing a lot and getting better,” Galchnyanyuks goal scorer said.
“I think that it’s a lot better and a lot more consistent,” he added.
“You can see a difference.”
The Jets also have goalie Anders Nilsson back in net.
He allowed four goals on 23 shots during his first NHL preseason appearance against the Panthers on Oct. 1.
The 31-year old has three shutouts in 15 games with Edmonton.
“He’s definitely an asset to the team,” coach Claude Noel said.
Nilsson is the third goaltender in the history of the Jets to play in the playoffs after Anders Lindback, who played for them in 1993-94 and 1998-99, and Anders Nilson, who won the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 2004.
“They’ve got some guys who have played a lot of games,” Noel said of the Oilers.
“This is an opportunity for some players to really get some good games and see what kind of goalie they can be.”
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