Martin Rucinsky had a goal and three assists, and Brian Leetch a
goal and assist for his first multipoint game this season, leading
the Rangers to a 6-2 victory Sunday over the Ottawa Senators on
Sunday night. That snapped a four-game winless streak.
Messier was back with his Rangers teammates after spending
Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta -- skating in an outdoor old-timers
game with his former friends with the Oilers.
That game took place in subzero temperatures, where ski hats and
long underwear became standard. He got back to New York around
midnight Saturday night, and felt fine Sunday.
"I didn't have my long-johns on tonight," the 42-year-old
Messier said. "It was the same as coming back from any game on the
The rest of the Rangers came back from a winless road trip
Thursday after losing at Colorado. Messier and coach Glen Sather
took a detour to Edmonton for Saturday's Heritage Classic.
"We've been playing well, but we haven't gotten the results we
would have liked," said Messier, who leads the team with eight
Leetch scored his second of the season in the second period and
set up Rucinsky in the first for the Rangers, who went 0-2-2 on the
trip. Leetch was playing in just his 11th game this season after
missing the first nine due to an ankle injury.
"Every day I'm getting stronger physically," Leetch said.
Alex Kovalev had a goal and two assists, and Bobby Holik, Jan
Hlavac and Petr Nedved added goals for New York, which scored only
seven on the road trip. It was the Rangers' first home game since a
6-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 12.
"It was one of those games where everybody clicks," Rucinsky
The Senators, who had beaten the Rangers four straight times,
looked a step slow as they played for the third time in four days.
They lost in overtime at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
"We can't use that as an excuse," captain Daniel Alfredsson
Alfredsson's goal 5:02 into the second period pulled Ottawa to
2-1, but by the time Senators defenseman Wade Redden scored in the
closing minute of the period the Rangers had added two more.
"It took away some of the momentum that we'd built," Senators
coach Jacques Martin said.
Rucinsky scored the only goal in the first off a pass from
Leetch at 6:40. Holik made it 2-0 just 1:32 into the second, when
he was set up by Rucinsky and Kovalev.
Leetch called Rucinsky's game the best he'd seen by a forward
this season. Messier said Rucinsky has been the Rangers' most
"We had the right guys playing well tonight," Messier said
after his 1,700th NHL game. "Coming off the road it's always a
little bit nervous. But we responded well."
Alfredsson's ninth of the season cut the deficit in half during
a power play at 5:02, but Leetch scored at 6:34 to make it 3-1.
Hlavac's power-play score restored New York's two-goal advantage
with 6:02 left in the period.
Redden scored a power-play goal with 44.6 seconds remaining to
get Ottawa to 4-2. But New York took complete control in the third
when Nedved and Kovalev scored 13 seconds apart to give the Rangers
a 6-2 lead.
Jussi Markkanen, playing for the first time since the birth of
his child this week, made 23 saves. He was again subbing for
regular Mike Dunham, who is recovering from a groin injury that has
kept him off the ice the past three games.
The Senators hadn't lost to the Rangers since March 21,
2002. Their previous loss in Madison Square Garden was Dec. 23,
2001. ... Rangers C Eric Lindros returned after missing four games
because of an eye injury. ... It was the 219th multipoint game of
Leetch's career. ... The Senators are 1-3-0-1 in their last five
games and are tied for last place in the Northeast Division after
reaching the Eastern Conference finals last season. ... The Rangers
agreed to terms with G Phil Osaer, who had been playing with
Hartford of the AHL. He served as Markkanen's backup.