Rangers trail Bruins by four points after win

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Rangers, who have not appeared in a
playoff game since 1997, treated their Thursday night showdown with
the Boston Bruins like a postseason match.

Ronald Petrovicky and Mark Messier scored short-handed goals to
help the Rangers get closer to Boston in the Eastern Conference
playoff race with a 4-1 victory.

Pavel Bure and Alexei Kovalev also scored for New York, which
pulled within four points of Boston, which holds the eighth and
final playoff spot in the East. The Bruins have a substantial
games-in-hand edge, four, but are slumping.

"Every game is very important for us, because the other team
(Boston) has games in hand on us,'' Kovalev said. "Boston has that
last place in the standings and we want to get as close as

P.J. Axelsson scored for the Bruins, whose grip on a playoff
spot continues to loosen. The loss stretched Boston's winless streak to seven (0-4-3).

The Rangers, playing the first of five straight home games, got
off to a fast start and never let up.

"We have a lot of home games coming up and it's going to be
really important for us to step up,'' Kovalev said. "If we win all
these home games, we'll be fine.''

Petrovicky, who had an eventful first period, scored with 1:01
remaining to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. With Boris Mironov
serving a high-sticking penalty, Petrovicky deflected a centering
pass from Petr Nedved over Jeff Hackett's shoulder.

Earlier in the period, Petrovicky was on the receiving end of a
knee-on-knee hit by Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton. Petrovicky
limped off, but was able to return; Boynton was banished with a
five-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct.

The Rangers dominated the first period, outshooting the Bruins
18-9. Hackett made several stellar stops, including three at close
range from Bure, before yielding Petrovicky's goal.

Ranger goalie Mike Dunham, who made 37 saves, sensed that his
team was prepared for the challenge.

"We knew that Boston was ahead of us and we knew this was a
chance to gain some ground,'' Dunham said. "When you're home, you
have to win some of these games. You might as well start with the
first one. We came out tonight playing desperate.''

Petrovicky played a roll in the Rangers' second goal, Messier's
score at 15:10 of the second. Petrovicky was in the penalty box for
roughing when Messier corraled the puck in the neutral zone. The
Rangers' captain deked Bruins defenseman Bryan Berard out of
position before breaking into the zone to stuff a shot past

Bure added a power-play score 1:24 later.

Axelsson beat Dunham from the right faceoff dot with 40.2
seconds remaining to end the shutout bid.

In the third period, Kovalev got an unassisted goal to close the

There were few positives for the Bruins.

"You give them two short-handed goals, you give them a
power-play goal -- you can't play that way and be successful,'' said
Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek. "We gave up 47 shots. You can't give
up 47 shots and I don't care if you're short-handed all night, and
expect to be successful.''

Game notes
Dominic Chianese, Uncle Junior from the Sopranos, sang
the national anthem. ... The Rangers presented a video tribute to
Jim Gordon, their longtime play-by-play announcer who recently
passed away, on the message board during a break in the first
period. ... The extended homestand gives the Rangers a chance to
gain ground, providing they raise their level of play. They are
only 13-15-3-1 at Madison Square Garden. ... Bure has three goals
and three in assists in six games since returning from knee surgery
that sidelined him 31 games.