Canadiens Rout Rangers 7-1


Wayne Gretzky and the New York Rangers were no match for the well-rested Montreal Canadiens.

"We've

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  • played six periods of hockey and I think we played hard in five of them," Gretzky said after the Rangers allowed five third-period goals in a 7-1 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday night.

    The Rangers opened the season Friday night with a 1-0 home loss to Philadelphia Flyers.

    "The worst thing we can do now is go into a panic mode, where we think it's a catastrophe," Gretzky said. "I don't think it's pandemonium, but obviously, we're disappointed and we're concerned that we're 0-2."

    Mark Recchi had four assists and Craig Rivet, Benoit Brunet, Scott Thornton, Igor Ulanov and Brett Clark had third-period goals for the Canadiens, whose previous biggest season-opening victory was a 10-1 romp over Pittsburgh in 1976. Saku Koivu and Vincent Damphousse also scored.

    "We had a lot of guys getting more ice time than they're used to and they did a great job," Recchi said. "Guys like Thornton, (Turner) Stevenson and Brunet stepped up and Jocelyn (Thibault) did a great job."

    Thibault made 20 saves, allowing only Adam Graves' power-play goal midway through the first period.

    Montreal started the season without unsigned free agents Martin Rucinsky and Brian Savage, but had defenseman Vladimir Malakhov back in the lineup after he signed a two-year contract Saturday afternoon.

    "We didn't know what to expect," Montreal coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had a lot of guys in their first games. We wanted to play well, to please our fans, and a lot of guys had great games."

    The Rangers ran int penalty trouble in the second period when they were outshot 13-1, and Damphousse put Montreal ahead at 13:32 on a wild goal that needed confirmation by video replay.

    Play went on for more than a minute after Damphousse shot the puck under the crossbar, during which Mike Richter made a pair saves and Rangers rookie Manny Malhotra was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway.

    Rivet tipped Recchi's pass into an open side 2:35 into the third period. Brunet intercepted Niklas Sundstrom's pass and deked Richter on a shorthanded breakaway at 6:27.

    Thornton banked a shot in off Richter at 11:02, and Ulanov and Clark added goals on long shots in a 34-second span.

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