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Poti scores another winner

12/31/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Defenseman Tom Poti has scored six goals for
the New York Rangers this season, and four of them have been
game-winners. Not a bad percentage.

Poti notched his second overtime goal in 24 hours as the Rangers
beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Tuesday night in their only meeting
of the season.

"It's not shocking, I'll put it that way," teammate Eric
Lindros said. "He's a helluva player. The puck hadn't been going
in for him recently, but the last couple of games it did at crucial
times."

Rangers captain Mark Messier got the tying goal with 11:13 left
in regulation, after being stopped on a first-period breakaway by
Cristobal Huet.

Greg de Vries also scored and Jussi Markkanen made 28 saves,
helping extend Los Angeles' winless streak to six games (0-2-4) and
end the Kings' seven-game home unbeaten streak (4-0-3). Kovalev and
Bobby Holik had two assists apiece.

Poti, who beat the Phoenix Coyotes one minute into OT on Monday,
scored on a redirection of Alex Kovalev's centering pass from the
right boards just 39 seconds into the five-minute period.

"That was definitely a first for me -- two in a row," said
Poti, who had 11 goals last season. "Greg said he had done it
before, and he told me to go out and do it again. I was just lucky
out there. We're trying to establish ourselves by winning all four
games on this trip, so this is a good start."

It's the first time the Rangers have won consecutive games since
Nov. 23-25, when they beat Ottawa 6-2 at Madison Square Garden and
followed that with a 2-0 win at Tampa Bay. The last time they won
back-to-back games on the same road trip was last Feb. 23-25, at
Minnesota and Anaheim.

Until these two victories, the Rangers had not won a game this
season in which they trailed after two periods.

"It's not the kind of position we wanted to be in going into
the third period, but we found a way to manufacture two wins in the
last two games instead of coming out with nothing," Messier said.
"Those are four big points for us. And in the end, I guess that's
all that's important."

Martin Straka and Jozef Stumpel scored for the Kings, who have
gone to overtime in seven of their last 11 games.

Matthew Barnaby had the puck in the slot and fanned on a wrist
shot, but it dribbled off the bottom of Barnaby's stick toward the
right of the crease and Messier put his team-high 13th goal between
goalie Huet's glove and the post with 11:13 left in regulation to
pull the Rangers even.

"We haven't played good enough with the lead," Kings coach
Andy Murray said. "The term shouldn't be `protecting' a lead.
That's what everybody uses. If you've got the lead, you should win.
But we haven't played well enough to do that."

New York opened the scoring at 2:33 of the first, just five
seconds after killing off Messier's slashing penalty. Kovalev got
the puck from Holik behind the net, carried it toward the left
circle and found de Vries cruising down the slot unchecked.

Straka tied it about 1{ minutes later with his ninth goal,
beating Markkanen to the stick side with a 20-foot slap shot from
the left circle.

The Kings took a 2-1 lead just 57 seconds before intermission
while Lindros was off for hooking. Stumpel was credited with his
third goal of the season after his intended cross-ice pass to Ziggy
Palffy caromed off the blade of Ranger forward Jed Ortmeyer's stick
and over Markkanen's glove.

Game notes
Ortmeyer had another dose of misfortune when he hit the
post in the opening minute of the second period. ... The NHL has
decided not to suspend Rangers D Boris Mironov, who received a
five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing Phoenix's
Ladislav Nagy on Monday night. Mironov served a two-game suspension
a couple of weeks ago after a retaliatory cross-check against
Buffalo's Adam Mair, which cost him $21,388 in salary. ... Ribcage
injuries sidelined Rangers D Darius Kasparaitis for the second
straight game and RW Anson Carter for the third game in a row. ...
Markkanen has allowed no more than two goals in six of his last
seven starts. ... Leetch, who has recorded more goals and assists
than any defenseman in Rangers history, has one assist in 10 games
since scoring two goals against the Islanders on Dec. 4.