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New York Rangers At New York Islanders: Rivalry Kicks Off Early

(Sports Network) - The Rangers will try to build off an impressive season debut when they visit the rival Islanders at Nassau Coliseum for today's battle between the New York rivals.

The Rangers opened the 2010-11 campaign Saturday night in Buffalo and Derek Stepan turned in a spectacular NHL debut, posting a hat trick for New York in its 6-3 victory at HSBC Arena.

Stepan tallied once in the first period and twice in the middle stanza to become the first rookie to score three times in his debut since Fabian Brunnstrom of the Dallas Stars on October 15, 2008. The 20-year-old also became the first player in Rangers history to turn the trick in his first-ever game and the first Blueshirt since Ron Murphy on October 7, 1955 to do so on Opening Night.

"It's special," Stepan calmly said after the game. "For me, it was just kind of getting my feet wet in my first NHL game. It was a fun process and nerve wracking, too, for a little bit. I settled in and played pretty well."

Brandon Dubinsky also scored a pair of goals and Henrik Lundqvist turned away 33 shots to record the victory for the Rangers.

After tonight's tilt, the Rangers will be off until Friday evening when they'll host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the home opener at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers and Isles split six meetings last year and the Blueshirts won two of their three trips to Long Island. Overall, the Rangers have taken three of four and seven of the last 10 encounters and the Islanders have dropped seven of the last eight meetings at the Coliseum.

The Islanders, who finished 13th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference last year, picked up a point in their season opener on Saturday, dropping a shootout decision to visiting Dallas. However, Isles second-year centerman John Tavares, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, suffered a concussion in the loss and is expected to sit out today's game.

"He's arguably our best forward, and John's a prolific player that brings a lot of offense to our team," Islanders captain Doug Weight told his team's official website. "Each day, every team goes through things like this, and I think we responded well. Hopefully he's back sooner than later."

Weight had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, but the Stars earned a 5-4 victory at the Coliseum afterMike Ribeiro scored the game-winner in the third round of the shootout.

James Wisniewski finished with a goal and an assist for New York, which also got goals from Matt Moulsonand Blake Comeau.

Rick DiPietro, who has played just 13 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, turned aside 18-of-22 shots in the loss. Dwayne Roloson could get the start in net for the Isles tonight.