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Roberts' hat trick ends 16-game drought

NEW YORK (AP) -- Gary Roberts proved he can still score.

Roberts scored three goals to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a
6-3 victory over the New York Rangers and become just the sixth
player to score 350 goals and amass 2,000 penalty minutes.

"He got 'em from where he gets 'em, in close," said Toronto
coach Pat Quinn, who became the seventh NHL coach with 500
victories. "You have to pay a price for that, and he's done it his
whole career."

Roberts, after a productive postseason last spring, was
disappointed to have only four goals entering the game. His last
came on Oct. 30.

"I've obviously been pressing a little bit," the 14-year
veteran said. "It certainly felt good to get a few tonight."

Mats Sundin added a goal and an assist in the third period, and
Shayne Corson also had a goal for Toronto, tied with the Rangers
and New York Islanders for the Eastern Conference lead.

The Rangers and Leafs play again Saturday in Toronto.

"We have to make sure we even out this home-and-home series,"
New York's Eric Lindros said.

Roberts acknowledged, "We know we're in for a battle
Saturday."

Sundin assisted on Jonas Hoglund's goal at 12:24 of the third to
put the Maple Leafs up 5-3. The Toronto captain earlier back-handed
in a long rebound at 9:39 of the period to give Toronto a 4-3 lead.

"I got a real good bounce off (Richter's) pads," Sundin said
of his go-ahead goal. "It bounced out good for me."

Mark Messier, Andreas Johansson and Vladimir Malakhov scored for
New York, which had a 2-0 lead.

Roberts scored the Leafs' first two goals, one on a power play.

He scored at 8:20 of the second after Tie Domi, a former Ranger,
swerved in from behind the goal and swept it to the far side for a
tip-in by Roberts.

Domi had told Roberts to expect "a couple of goals" but the
frustrated Roberts was skeptical.

"Tie certainly got me out of my slump with that shot on net,"
Roberts said. "It hit the heel of my stick and went through
Richter's legs."

At 17:29 of the second, with Malakhov in the box for roughing,
Roberts raced across the goal mouth and nudged the puck between
Richter's legs again to tie it.

Less than a minute later, at 18:20 of the second, Corson put
Toronto up 3-2.

Malakhov tied it at 3 after racing through the slot and wristing
the puck through goalie Corey Schwab's legs at 3:41 of the third.

"Tonight we were playing for first place and it was
disappointing to let them get the lead," New York defenseman Brian
Leetch said.

Roberts scored at 15:01 of the third to complete his hat trick
and the scoring for the night.

"You try to play as well as you can on both ends of the ice,"
the 35-year-old Roberts said. "But it hasn't been as successful a
year as I would have liked. It feels good any time you
contribute."

The game had several subplots, but one was foiled before the
puck was dropped. Curtis Joseph didn't start in goal for Toronto,
denying Madison Square Garden fans a preview of the probable
Canada-U.S. Olympic matchup in nets. Richter, who worked hard for
his 36 saves, is likely to start for the United States.

Joseph, who was pulled for rest, will likely start Saturday.

Schwab stopped 23 shots.

Lindros, who once demanded a trade to Toronto -- and only Toronto
-- during his contentious negotiations with Philadelphia, had an
assist on Malakhov's goal.

Defenseman Bryan Berard faced his former team for the first time
since he sustained a severe eye injury against the Ottawa Senators
on March 11, 2000. He chose to return to the league with the
Rangers.

Berard was the first to confront former teammate Darcy Tucker
after his first-period hit on Igor Ulanov, but also missed an
assignment on Roberts, who scored.

Quinn, also the Toronto GM and head coach of the Canadian
Olympic team, was happy with his milestone.

"Obviously it's a great number," he said. "It simply means
I've had real good teams and real good players."

Game notes
Joseph entered with a 2.70 goals-against average while
Schwab came in with a 2.53 GAA. ... Fleury missed the first 6:59
fighting off flu symptoms in the locker room, but recovered to have
two assists. ... New York C Manny Malhotra played after sitting out
as a healthy scratch for the past five games. ... Malakhov played
his 500th NHL game.