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Rangers, Habs Skate To Tie

Brian Leetch and the New York Rangers almost forgot what it was like to score a goal.

Leetch's goal at 19:02 of the first period in the Rangers' 2-2 tie with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night ended the team's streak of 253 minutes, 33 seconds without a goal.

"I was surprised it went in," Leetch said. "Then you realize, it's over. We finally scored. Then, you just go on from there."

The Rangers were shut out in their three previous games.

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  • "Did you see the piano fall out of the sky?" forward Theoren Fleury said. "We've been carrying one around on our backs for three games."

    Saku Koivu's power-play goal 30 seconds into the third period tied a game that saw multiple scoring chances at both ends for two teams that have each averaged fewer than two goals this season.

    Martin Rucinsky had a power-play goal in the first period for Montreal, while Mike Knuble scored in the second for New York as both teams ended four-game losing streaks.

    "It was an open game all night," Montreal goaltender Jeff Hackett said. "It was a good skating game and their defense was jumping into the rush a lot to create odd-man situations.

    "We had our hands full. It was exciting for the fans and I guess that's good for the game. But it's tough for a goalie."

    Rucinsky's goal 6:22 into the game ended a drought for Montreal, which was shut out by Chicago in its previous game and had gone 105:58 seconds without scoring.

    New York outshot Montreal 35-31 including 3-2 in wild four-on-four overtime before an announced crowd of 19,541 that included Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban.

    New York's Peter Nedved had an open net in the final seconds, but shot just wide.

    "They're going to start going in, I'm not concerned about that," Rangers coach John Muckler said. "This was a good game after the (six-day) rest we had.

    "The club is loose and they're gaining confidence. We backed off a bit after they got the tying goal, but we got our composure back and had scoring chances at the end."

    The Canadiens, who along with the Rangers are among the NHL's worst on the power play, went 2-for-5. Rucinsky scored on the first man-advantage of the game when he converted Koivu's pass.

    As the period wound down, Tim Taylor drew a face off back to Leetch, who stepped around Brian Savage, moved into the left circle and beat Jeff Hackett low to the far side.

    "I didn't see an opening at first," Leetch said. "I waited and waited and then just tried to get it off his glove side.

    "There's been a few times lately I was sure I'd score and I'd raise my stick, but the goalie made an amazing save. That's why I was surprised it went in."

    Knuble raced down the left side and drilled a pass inside the post to put New York ahead 2-1 at 17:07 of the second period.

    Hackett made 33 saves for the Blackhawks, while Richter stopped 29 shots for the Rangers.

    Shayne Corson, who missed 10 games recovering from colitis, returned for Montreal and Sergei Zholtok, back from a broken collarbone, played his first game of the season.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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