|BOS||0||1||1||(0 - 0)||2|
|NYR||1||2||2||(0 - 0)||5|
NEW YORK (AP) - It wasn't odd that a Rangers defenseman had a three-point game. It was just strange that Michal Rozsival was the offensive force on the night Brian Leetch came back to Broadway.
Rozsival had a goal and a season-high two assists to lead New York to a 5-2 victory over Boston that spoiled Leetch's return to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Leetch, the highest-scoring defenseman in Rangers history, played against his former team for the first time in his 18 NHL seasons. He was with New York from 1988-2004 before being traded to Toronto, and received a warm welcome.
After a brief pregame tribute, the rest of the night was quite a downer for Leetch, who was on the ice for two New York goals.
"I skated around in a fog out there," Leetch said in the visitors' locker room that he never entered before Monday. "Unfortunately it showed and our team played that way, too.
"It's hard to play a hockey game when your mind is like that."
Steve Rucchin and Petr Sykora assisted on Rozsival's power-play goal in the first period and Martin Straka's even-strength tally in the second for the Rangers, who won their third straight after a six-game losing streak and stretched their Atlantic Division-lead to four points over the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It feels like the way we played before the (Olympic) break," said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 19 saves in his third straight win.
The Flyers will visit New York on Wednesday night in a pivotal contest with only four weeks left in the season. The Rangers haven't reached the playoffs since 1997.
"We got into this position with hard work," said Michael Nylander, who added a third-period goal. "It is going down to the wire. That game will be lots of fun."
Boston had a two-game winning streak snapped and is 3-8-2 in its last 13 games. The Bruins are in 13th place and eight points out of a playoff spot.
"I don't think we were as sharp as we were the last couple of games," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "The special teams which was the difference the other night was the difference on the negative side tonight."
Many fans wore Leetch's former No. 2 while he was dressed in Boston whites with a 22 on the back. They cheered him from the pregame warmups and through a second-period penalty before chanting his name when he touched the puck's in the closing minutes.
"It reminded me of sitting in Yankee Stadium at the beginning of the games when the guys in the bleachers are yelling out to all the guys in the field," Leetch said. "You are used to going into a building and they are for you or against you. It's never in between like that. It was really a different night."
The Rangers took leads of 3-0 and 4-1, but Boston responded quickly each time to cut the deficits back to two goals. Hal Gill scored his first in 88 games at 8:50 of the second, just 24 ticks after Straka's goal that led Sullivan to burn his timeout.
Nylander, chosen as NHL offensive player of the week earlier Monday, scored his 18th goal 6:18 into the third. Brad Boyes followed up on his first NHL hat trick on Saturday with his 22nd goal at 6:29.
Dominic Moore sealed it with 5:16 remaining, making it 5-2 and making it safe for fans to chant Leetch's name as the clock wound down.
Leetch, a Rangers first-round pick in 1986, set the franchise records for goals (240), assists (741) and points (981) by a defenseman. He was the MVP of the playoffs in 1994 when New York won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940.
"I was proud to be a Ranger and I wanted to be here when things turned around," he said. "I was disappointed to leave and I still am."
Leetch has many fond memories of his days in New York, but one won't be Blair Betts' short-handed goal in the second period that gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead.
Rozsival trapped Leetch by the boards at the left point and poked the puck past him. Jason Ward carried it into the Boston zone and passed to Betts, who scored his sixth goal and New York's fourth short-handed at 4:20.
Straka made it 3-0 at 8:26. Nylander and Moore's goals gave the Rangers 15 - five in each game of their winning streak after netting only six in their season-worst skid.
Notes: Only New Jersey, with two short-handed goals, has scored fewer than the Rangers. ... New York RW Jaromir Jagr assisted on Nylander's goal for his NHL-best 101st point. ... Boyes has six goals and two assists during a six-game point streak. ... Gill, a defenseman who hadn't scored since Feb. 19, 2004, has 20 career goals. ... Rozsival had two previous two-point games this season.
|PPG - Michal Rozsival Slapshot - ASST: Steve Rucchin , Petr Sykora|
1 - 0 NYR
|SHG - Blair Betts Snap shot - ASST: Jason Ward , Michal Rozsival|
2 - 0 NYR
|Martin Straka Wrist shot - ASST: Steve Rucchin , Petr Sykora|
3 - 0 NYR
|Hal Gill Tip-in - ASST: Wayne Primeau , Travis Green|
3 - 1 NYR
|Michael Nylander Wrist shot - ASST: Petr Prucha , Jaromir Jagr|
4 - 1 NYR
|Brad Boyes Snap shot - ASST: Marco Sturm|
4 - 2 NYR
|Dominic Moore Backhand shot - ASST: Martin Straka , Michal Rozsival|
5 - 2 NYR
|Hal Gill Interference against Jaromir Jagr|
|Marek Malik Hooking against Marty Reasoner|
|Petr Prucha Interference against Hal Gill|
|Sandis Ozolinsh Hooking|
|Brian Leetch Tripping against Blair Betts|
|Mark Stuart Slashing against Petr Sykora|
|Marek Malik Hooking against Brian Leetch|
|Dan Lacouture Fighting (maj) against Ryan Hollweg|
|Ryan Hollweg Fighting (maj) against Dan Lacouture|