NEW YORK (AP) — Defenseman Marc Staal scored the tying goal early in the third period and then set up Marian Gaborik's game-winner late to rally the New York Rangers to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
This one had all the signs of being another tough loss for the Rangers, who had already dropped three of their first four in the lockout-shortened season. But Staal got New York even at 2 at 7:36 of the third and then fired the drive that Gaborik deflected in with 7:03 left.
The Rangers held a commanding shots advantage throughout and finished with a 42-17 edge, but they trailed 2-0 in the first period.
Brad Richards, who also assisted on Gaborik's winner, got the Rangers within 2-1 in the second. Gaborik added two assists and an empty-net goal with 1:15 to go.
On the go-ahead goal, Richards nudged the puck up the wall to Staal, who unleashed a one-timer that Gaborik tipped past screened goalie James Reimer.
Brian Boyle then deflected in Michael Del Zotto's drive to make it 4-2 with 2:52 remaining.
Mikhail Grabovski and James van Riemsdyk scored first-period goals for the Maple Leafs, who fell to 2-1 on the road.
Defenseman John-Michael Liles assisted on both early goals for Toronto, which blew a lead for the second straight game. On Thursday, the Maple Leafs allowed five straight goals in a 7-4 loss to the New York Islanders after jumping out to a 3-1 edge.
Reimer was strong throughout before his rough third period. He had to be nearly perfect for much of the game because his teammates generated so few shots at opposing goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
It was a much-needed win for the Rangers, who were 0 for 4 on the power play and are 2 for 22 overall this season.
Toronto forged a 2-0 lead in the first period despite being outshot 14-3. The only save Lundqvist made in the opening 20 minutes was off a shot by van Riemsdyk, who instantly put the rebound in for his third goal.
The power-play tally was set up when the Rangers were caught with too many men on the ice.
The only other shot that came Lundqvist's way in the first period was Grabovski's goal. Despite their low shot total, the Maple Leafs had nine drives blocked by New York defenders.
Grabovski gave Toronto a 1-0 lead when he was left alone in front of Lundqvist, stickhandled and then shoved in a shot at 6:25 for his third goal of the season.
The Rangers had a couple of potential scoring chances, but were denied by Reimer. His best stop came with just under nine minutes left in the first after Nash was sprung free on a long stretch pass. Nash snapped off a hard shot that Reimer calmly gloved at his midsection.
New York finally had something to show for its efforts when Richards cleaned up a loose puck in front to get the Rangers within a goal at 5:43 of the second.
Nash's drive from the outer edge of the right circle was deflected in front by Gaborik, who put the puck back in on Reimer. The puck slid toward the left post, and Richards took a backhanded swipe for his second goal of the season.
New York held a 17-4 shots advantage at the time of its first goal and a 25-9 edge through 40 minutes.
Fans got so frustrated with the lack of positive moments from the slumping home team that when Lundqvist made his simple glove save to stop play 40 seconds into the middle period, the crowd let out a sarcastic cheer.
NOTES: New York appeared close to signing veteran free-agent center Jason Arnott, pending a physical. ... Rangers RW Arron Asham returned after missing two games because of a groin injury. He has engaged in a fight in both games he has played this season. ... New York RW Benn Ferriero made his Rangers debut after being recalled from Connecticut (AHL). ... Toronto LW Nikolai Kulemin, who had a career-high three assists Wednesday at Pittsburgh, earned another on Grabovski's goal. Van Riemsdyk had two goals and an assist in that game. ... Phil Kessel, who scored a career-high 37 goals last season for Toronto, has none through five games.
Where you nervous about the Rangers in the first two periods? Let us know below.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.