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Rangers Win In Muckler's Debut

Wayne Gretzky had three assists as New York defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 Thursday night in John Muckler's coaching debut with the Rangers. Muckler, who replaced the fired Colin Campbell during the Olympic break, watched his new team score more than three goals for the first time in 14 games.

Gretzky, who played for Muckler at Edmonton, notched the 140th three-assist game of his career. His last three-assist effort came against the Maple Leafs on Jan. 12.

Niklas Sundstrom scored twice and Alexei Kovalev, Pat LaFontaine and Adam Graves also scored for the Rangers, who were playing their first game after the Olympic break. Fredrik Modin, who scored 30 seconds apart in the second period, had both goals for Toronto.

Sundstrom scored the only goal of the first period on the power play and Kovalev put the Rangers up 2-0 late in the second with another power-play goal.

But Modin scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season at 19:06 and 19:36 of the second to tie the game. Sundstrom scored his second of the game at 3:58 of the third and LaFontaine added the insurance goal, his first at even strength in 22 games, at 5:01.

Sundstrom also recorded his first goal in 10 games. The Ranger win spoiled another outstanding outing for Modin, who now has 10 goals in his last 12 games.

While Modin was doing his part, his teammates failed to generate an offense, despite the fact they had 10 power-play opportunities, including a 5-on-3 for 45 seconds in the second period.

The win elevated the Rangers' record to 18-24-16 for ninth place in the Eastern Conference while the Maple Leafs dropped to 19-30-8 and remained in 11th in the Western Conference.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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