Bure sparks moribund Rangers with two goals

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Rangers were struggling to find some offense -- until Pavel Bure hit the ice.

Bure had two goals and an assist in his season debut, helping
the Rangers break out of a two-game scoring slump with a 5-4
victory Tuesday night over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

New York was outscored 10-1 in two losses following a 4-1 victory over Carolina on opening night. The Rangers went 143 minutes, 28 seconds without a goal, dating to Friday, until Matthew Barnaby scored on a breakaway at 12:24 of the second period.

Bure didn't play in New York's season opener last Wednesday at
Carolina because of the flu. He then missed the Rangers' first home
game on Friday and a game at Pittsburgh -- both losses -- due to strep throat.

"I don't remember when I was sick so much in my life. It was really bad,'' Bure said. "I couldn't even talk, I couldn't swallow, I couldn't turn my head. And then I had a really big fever as well. It wasn't good.''

Even if he felt up to it, Bure couldn't watch his teammates play without him on television because he hasn't been able to get his apartment wired for cable.

He took his first shift 49 seconds in and helped the Rangers snap a 1-1 tie in the second period with an assist. Then he made it 3-1 with a goal 41 seconds later.

Bure had 12 goals and eight assists in 12 games for the Rangers last season after he was traded from Florida and already has three points this season.

"It's a funny game,'' Bure said. "Sometimes you can score lots of goals and sometimes you can go without it. If you ask me what's the difference, I don't know. Sometimes you shoot and it goes in.''

The Maple Leafs dropped their third straight following a 6-0
victory over Pittsburgh to start the season.

The Rangers scored all their goals after top center Eric Lindros was ejected for boarding in the second period.

Bure helped set up Tom Poti's first goal of the season with 2:20 left in the period. New York made it 3-1 at 18:21 when Bure took a perfect pass from Barnaby at the bottom of the right circle and swept a shot into the net.

Bure made it 4-2 with another power-play goal at 6:49 in the third, when he took a pass from Brian Leetch and scored a nearly identical goal -- putting the puck in while dropping to his left knee.

"I didn't do anything,'' Bure said. "I just hit a couple of
shots that went in.''

New York entered only 1-for-18 on the power play but went 2-for-3 Tuesday.

Toronto closed to 4-3 when Tomas Kaberle scored at 13:50 of the
third, but the Rangers went back up by two goals when Mikael
Samuelsson scored 17 seconds later.

The Maple Leafs, who held a 33-28 advantage in shots, made it
5-4 with 4:10 left on Nik Antropov's first goal this season.

Bure tore cartilage in his twice rebuilt right knee during an
exhibition game against New Jersey on Sept. 24.

He underwent arthroscopic surgery two days later which left him questionable for the season opener. Bure's knee did recover in time, but he was too sick to play.

Bure was placed back on a line with Lindros and Petr Nedved. Lindros also was out of Saturday night's game at Pittsburgh, serving a suspension for a high-sticking penalty the night before.

The combination didn't last long, as Lindros was called for
boarding Maple Leafs forward Wade Belak and was ejected.

Belak, who had his head knocked into the boards, was down for a
few minutes before being helped from the ice.

"Wade went into the boards and fell, and even talking to him when we were coming off the ice he made note of that,'' Lindros said. "I think he got his skate caught in the rut between the boards and the ice, and when his big body went down, tangling up with mine, then I went down.

"I made sure that when I came in that I had my stick above his
head so that it wasn't like the full force of everything going in.
Not only was I protecting myself, but him as well.''

Belak received some stitches and didn't return to the game. None of his injuries appeared to be serious.

"I'm OK. I just got hit in the head,'' Belak said.

New York general manager Glen Sather said he already called the league regarding the severe penalty given to Lindros.

The Rangers killed off the entire 5-minute power play and then went on offense.

"It was a situation where we weren't supporting the puck,'' Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "I have no answer for it because all of the lines went to real pond hockey.''

Jonas Hoglund and Darcy Tucker also scored for Toronto.

Game notes
Belak made his season debut, replacing injured D Bryan McCabe. ... Barnaby had another goal disallowed in the third period because he knocked the puck in with a high stick.