NEW YORK -- It was hardly a Willis Reed moment, but the
New York Rangers and the early arriving Madison Square Garden crowd got
a lift Sunday night when forward Sean Avery hopped onto the ice for
the first time in a month before a 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
Just hours after the New York Knicks, Reed's former team, lost
for the 19th time in 27 games, Avery and the Rangers gave the arena
a much-needed jolt when he came onto the ice for warmups.
The Rangers' main agitator and key spark plug returned to action
after missing 11 games after wrist surgery. He jawed and jostled and hit anyone he could starting from his first shift in the opening 2 minutes. It just wasn't enough.
The Rangers fell to 9-5-1 in games he's played this season. New York was 8-10-3 during his two injury stints.
Avery had surgery on Nov. 29 to repair the left wrist that was
giving him trouble dating back to last season's playoffs.
He fought Toronto's Darcy Tucker on Nov. 10, a bout first
sparked during an altercation with the Maple Leafs forward during
pregame warmups, and then was hit 11 days later by a shot from
Shanahan when the Rangers played at Tampa Bay.
Avery considered offseason surgery after the Rangers were
eliminated by Buffalo in the second round of the playoffs in May,
but decided against it.
This is the second time this season that Avery returned from an
injury. When the catalyst was sidelined with a separated shoulder
earlier this season, the Rangers went 4-5-1. New York is 9-4-1 with
him in the lineup.
The Rangers went 17-6-6 last season after he was acquired from
Los Angeles in February.
Once the crowd realized Avery was on the ice for warmups with
his teammates, the cheers grew louder and were quickly joined by
chants of "Avery! Avery!''
Avery took his first shift just over a minute into the game, and
spent a chunk of it jawing and jostling with Senators forward Shean
In 14 games this season, Avery posted two goals, seven assists
and 30 penalty minutes. He replaced forward Petr Prucha, who was a
healthy scratch. Prucha had played in New York's first 35 games