NEW YORK (AP) _ Jaromir Jagr had a three-point night in his home debut for the New York Rangers, setting up Brian Leetch's tiebreaking score and adding a third-period goal and assist in a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday.
Jagr, acquired Friday from Washington, enjoyed his home debut much more than his first game with the Rangers _ a 9-1 drubbing in Ottawa on Saturday that he called embarrassing.
At least for a while, he lifted the negative energy that filled Madison Square Garden. He brought fans out of their seats to cheer his first Rangers goal, 17th of the season, that made it 3-1 at 33 seconds of the third.
Jagr got to a rebound of Eric Lindros' shot and smoothly backhanded the puck in from the edge of the crease. He also assisted on Matthew Barnaby's empty-net goal.
Byron Ritchie pulled Florida within one 80 seconds after Jagr scored, but the Rangers held on to earn their eighth victory in 10 against the Panthers (8-1-1).
Petr Nedved and Mark Messier also scored for New York, which snapped a four-game losing streak and six-game winless streak (0-4-2) and moved two points ahead of Florida for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
That disappointing standing and the anticipation of a seventh straight non-playoff season had fans booing before the first puck was dropped.
The Rangers scored three straight against Florida goalie Roberto Luongo, the All-Star who was coming off a 43-save effort Saturday in a victory at Boston. Luongo made 33 saves.
Jussi Markkanen rebounded from allowing six goals on 19 shots against Ottawa to make 38 saves in his second straight start for Rangers regular Mike Dunham, sidelined by a concussion.
Kristian Huselius gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead 9:03 into the second, but Messier tied it with his 14th goal _ off an assist by Leetch _ 1:19 later.
Huselius' goal was set up after Darcy Hordichuk landed a hard hit on Jagr in the Florida zone, separating him from the puck.
Jed Ortmeyer was instrumental in getting the Rangers even when he beat the Panthers down ice to negate an icing call and then found Messier in front with a nice pass.
Leetch made it 2-1 when he ripped a shot in, after the Rangers kept the pressure on 2:20 after a power play ended. Nedved made it 4-2 with 3:26 left.
|Kristian Huselius (6) ASST: Niklas Hagman (7), Darcy Hordichuk (1)|
1 - 0 FLA
|Mark Messier (14) ASST: Jed Ortmeyer (2), Brian Leetch (12)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Brian Leetch (10) ASST: Jaromir Jagr (30), Petr Nedved (12)|
2 - 1 NYR
|Jaromir Jagr (17) ASST: Eric Lindros (22)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Byron Ritchie (5) ASST: Eric Beaudoin (2)|
3 - 2 NYR
|Petr Nedved (12) ASST: Chris Simon (9)|
4 - 2 NYR
|EN - Matthew Barnaby (8) ASST: Jaromir Jagr (31), Boris Mironov (7)|
5 - 2 NYR
|Byron Ritchie Hi-sticking against Petr Nedved|
|Andreas Lilja Hooking against Mark Messier|
|Matthew Barnaby Tripping against Niklas Hagman|
|Andreas Lilja Interference against Eric Lindros|
|Joel Bouchard Interference against Marcus Nilson|
|Eric Lindros Interference on goalkeeper against Roberto Luongo|
|Viktor Kozlov Hi-sticking against Eric Lindros|