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Messier's two goals lead Rangers to 3-0 win

11/5/2003

NEW YORK (AP) -- Even at 42, Mark Messier still has a flair for
dramatics.

Messier enjoyed being tied with Gordie Howe on the NHL points
list for two periods before he passed Mr. Hockey in the closing
seconds of the New York Rangers' 3-0 victory Tuesday night over the
Dallas Stars.

The Rangers captain scored the first and last goals to give him
1,851 points and set off an on-ice hug with his teammates.

"I always find it hard to celebrate something like that, but
what I have to realize is it's a tremendous honor for all the
people I played with and the game of hockey itself," Messier said.

Messier found an empty net for a short-handed goal with 4.7
seconds left.

"Well, I wasn't really thinking about that point right there,"
Messier said. "Obviously if the opportunity presented itself, I
wasn't going to pass it up."

It was just like the night in 1994 when he guaranteed New York
would beat New Jersey in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals
and stay alive in route to the Rangers' first Stanley Cup in 54
years.

Messier sealed that win by landing the puck flat in the empty
New Jersey goal.

"Besides being a clutch player, he has a thing to come up with
the big moment and make it fun for the people around," said
Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch, Messier's teammate for 10 seasons.

The second goal came when Alex Kovalev fed Messier as he
streaked down the right wing. When Messier hit the back of the
vacated net, he threw his hands up in exultation, and the referees
allowed the New York bench to empty and greet him in the Dallas
zone.

"I can't lie, I definitely wanted to do it in this rink,"
Messier said. "You only have one opportunity to do things like
this."

Rangers coach and general manager Glen Sather clapped on the
bench as Messier's family hugged in the stands. Sather was
Messier's first NHL coach when the star was just 18.

Back then he didn't have any thoughts about passing Howe, a man
Messier said was very well-respected in his Edmonton, Alberta,
home.

"I was having a tough enough time staying out of Glen's office
when I was 17, 18 years old," Messier said. "I think everybody
who comes into the league, you feel like you want to come in and
establish themselves and contribute to a team and obviously win a
Stanley Cup. That's what we grow up with.

"You don't think about scoring goals, making assists or
entering the Hall of Fame or doing those things."

Messier gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 1:37 into the second period,
earning his 1,850th point in his 1,691st game. Howe played 1,767
games over 26 NHL seasons. Wayne Gretzky is first with 2,857
points.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gordie," Messier
said. "My dad was affliated with the Detroit Red Wings back in
the 1950s and early 1960s. He attended some training camps, he
played with Gordie in some exhibition games. So he had a
first-hand account of Gordie as a hockey player. Gordie Howe in
our household was a really well-respected hockey player as well
as a person. Growing up with that and then passing him at that
moment, there is a little trepidation because it seems like
Wayne (Gretzky) and Gordie are synonymous with each other."

Messier's linemate Matthew Barnaby also scored in the second
period for the Rangers, 4-1-2-1 at home this season. Jussi
Markkanen made 34 saves for his first win of the season and sixth
career shutout. Markkanen spelled Mike Dunham, who didn't start for
the first time in nine games.

Dunham served as Markkanen's backup for precautionary reasons
relating to a sore groin. Markkanen allowed five goals in his
Rangers debut, a 5-0 loss to Columbus in New York's second game
this season.

"We all knew that Mark was one point shy, and we all know how
good of a team Dallas is so it was a big game for all of us,"
Markkanen said.

Marty Turco made 17 saves for the Stars, who had a four-game
unbeaten streak snapped (3-0-1).

"We made a lot of mistakes, and it's definitely hard to string
together wins when you make mistakes," Stars forward Bill Guerin
said.

Dallas nearly cut into the lead 1:14 into the third period when
Rob DiMaio rang a shot of the post behind Markkanen.

Later in the period, Brenden Morrow raced in on a breakaway, but
Markkanen denied him with a flailing stop of his hard drive. A puck
also squeezed behind Markkanen and hit the left post.

The 28-year-old goalie also stopped a shot with his mask, just
before the Rangers rushed up ice and Messier made more hockey
history.

Kovalev swiftly carried the puck through the slot and took a
shot. Messier charged in from the right side and got his stick on
the hard drive, deflecting it past Turco to give New York a 1-0
lead.

"I wish it wasn't against us, but everybody in the league is
happy for Mark," Guerin said. "He's been the complete package for
25 years, and he deserves everything he gets. He's just a machine
that keeps on going and going."

Barnaby made it 2-0 with 4:59 left in the second, cutting across
in front of the goal from right to left and beating Turco.

Dallas had a four-minute power play in the third, in which they
had 17 shots, but couldn't dent Markkanen.

Messier is in eighth place with 682 goals, tied for third with
1,169 career assists, and second to Howe in games played. He's a
16-time All-Star and six-time Stanley Cup champion.

His first point came on his mother's birthday in 1979, Howe's
last NHL season.

Game notes
Dallas was 6-1-1 in eight previous games against New York.
... Rangers D Tom Poti sat out due to the flu. C Petr Nedved also
missed the game because of a strained neck. ... Markkanen had five
shutouts in 36 career games before this season with Edmonton.

Information from SportsTicker was used in this report.