Even though they finally broke out of their scoring slump, the New York Rangers couldn't break into the victory column.
Gretzky bounced the puck off Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph and into the net at 19:22 of the third period with Rangers goalie Dan Cloutier on the bench for an extra attacker. Gretzky also added an assist to give him 147 points in 60 career games against the Maple Leafs.
"Tonight wasn't a pretty game," Gretzky said. "It was a nice effort by our team and the young guys played pretty well."
The Rangers scored more than three goals in a game for the first time this season. Entering Saturday's contest, they were averaging only 1.5 goals per game with a league-worst 18 goals in 12 games.
"You wanted goals, you got goals," Rangers coach John Muckler said. "Trouble was, you got it at both ends."
Todd Harvey and Adam Graves each had two goals and an assist for the Rangers (3-6-4), while rookie Manny Malhotra had New York's other goal. Rookie Marc Savard, who was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Thursday, had four assists in his first game of the season.
"Everything was bouncing my way tonight," Savard said.
Igor Korolev scored twice and had an assist for the Maple Leafs (6-5-2), while Derek King, Mike Johnson, Dimitri Yushkevich and Steve Thomas also scored. Mats Sundin added a pair of assist.
The Maple Leafs blew a 4-2 second-period lead in falling to 1-4-1 against Eastern Conference teams.
"We kept giving them leads back all night," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "The way we've played has cost us games the past two weeks. We had inadequate checking, we weren't jumping on loose pucks, forwards were leaving their responsibilities. Some of our best players are doing it."
The Maple Leafs, who had lost their last eight games against the Rangers, haven't beaten New York since Jan. 30, 1993, when Toronto won 3-1 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Joseph had another poor outing, following the Maple Leafs' 4-1 loss to Boston Thursday, allowing six goals on 32 shots.
"I can't really give you any excuses," Joseph said. "I was fighting it tonight."
Rangers starting goalie Mike Richter was replaced by Cloutier at the start of the third period after allowing four goals on 13 shots.
The game marked the return of defenseman Mathieu Schneider to Maple Leaf Gardens after being traded by Toronto Oct. 14 for Alexander Karpovtsev. Schneider had two assists and Karpovtsev had one.
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