After a season in the United States, Alexis Lavrinier made his return to Canada well.
The Quebec kid first played in his hometown of Montreal, scoring the match-winning goal with a 3-1 victory for Rangers. It was his first goal of the season and gave Rangers their first win.
As the Rangers approached in the third inning, Lavrinier ran down the left wing and buried assistant Mika Zibanijad.
Lafreniére, who stuck to the chin for his efforts, made his family happy, not giving the visiting public a 2-1 lead after just 26 seconds in Jonathan Drouin’s equaliser.
Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, who was the star of the two Canadian gold medalists at the 2020 Junior World Championships, grew up in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Eustache. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has halted cross-border travel, he has not played at home and his parents have not been able to travel to New York to see him play.
Lafreniére’s plane was flying all night. He had five high shots in the game and was credited with three hits in 16 minutes and 16 seconds of icy time. He is the first Quebec-born goalkeeper to score against Montreal since Derek Brassard on March 26, 2016.
Last season, the 20-year-old scored only 12 goals and made 9 assists in 56 matches. He struggled at times as he moved up and down the lineup. In 2021, under new bench coach Gerard Gallant, he was put in a privileged position playing on the top streak with Zibani Nejad and Chris Kreider, who scored the opening goal.
The win was also the first of Galant Rangers’ tenure.