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Wild's three-game skid longest of season

2/20/2003

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Even at 42, Mark Messier is still scoring
important goals for the New York Rangers.

Messier's breakaway goal in the second period proved to be the
difference as the Rangers held off the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Wednesday
night.

Messier picked up an errant pass and came in alone on Minnesota
goalie Dwayne Roloson. He tucked a backhand shot between the right
post and Roloson's skate to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

"I knew I had a lot of time, so I just tried to make the right
move,'' said Messier, who has 15 goals this season. "On breakways
you never really know what to do until you get in there. You just
try to make the goalie make the first move.''

Minnesota got power-play goals from Andrew Brunette and Sergei Zholtok, and outshot the Rangers 12-2 in the third period.

"It was probably the best we've played on the power play all
year, but at the same time, you need to tie the game,'' said
Zholtok, who missed an open net and hit the post on two
second-period scoring opportunities. "This is a tough one to
swallow.''

New York snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 4-0
against the Wild. Minnesota is on a three-game losing streak, its
longest this season.

"I thought we played extremely well,'' Wild coach Jacques
Lemaire said. "It's too bad because I thought we deserved more
than we got here.''

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead on Sandy McCarthy's third goal.
Brian Leetch made a backhand pass from behind the net to McCarthy,
who was posted just outside the crease.

The Wild needed barely two minutes to tie it when Andrew
Brunette scored on a power play. Cliff Ronning's shot from the blue
line deflected off the skate of a Rangers defenseman and went wide
of the net. But Brunette corralled the puck and lifted a wrist shot
into the upper half of the net while goalie Mike Dunham dived in a
failed attempt to block the shot.

After Ronning was whistled for high-sticking, the Rangers' power
play restored New York's lead when Leetch snapped in a cross-ice
pass from Pavel Bure.

Messier's goal gave the Rangers a two-goal advantage at 7:17 of
the second, but Minnesota answered three minutes later on a power
play. Zholtok beat Dunham after a no-look pass from Brunette.

Minnesota dominated much of the final period, but couldn't get
another shot past Dunham, who made 27 saves despite being attended
to by trainers twice in the final period.

"Dunham started to cramp up in the third period and I thought
we might have to pull him,'' Rangers coach Glen Sather said. "But
he said he wanted to battle through it, and he did.''

Bobby Holik completed the scoring with a rising slap shot late
in the third that gave the Rangers a 4-2 advantage.

Roloson finished with 15 saves.

Game notes
The Rangers have played three games of a six-game trip that
will take them to Anaheim, Colorado and New Jersey. ... Roloson
returned after missing two games because of a sprained right ankle.
Roloson was injured during a 2-0 home shutout of the Flyers. ...
The Rangers have given up two or more power-play goals in 18 of 64
games this season.