NEW YORK (AP) -Third period, tie game. Just call it Chris Drury Time.
With the season opener hanging in the balance, one half of the New York Rangers' prized additions showed just what made him so attractive on the free-agent market.
Drury's first goal in a Rangers uniform snapped a third-period tie Thursday night and sparked a late outburst that carried New York to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Signed this summer after helping the Buffalo Sabres eliminate the Rangers in the second round of last season's playoffs, Drury put in a rebound of Jaromir Jagr's shot 8:46 into the third period to give New York a 3-2 lead and spark a spurt of three goals in a 4:16 span.
It was his 38th winning goal in the regular season, and 53rd counting the playoffs. But it was the first one the Madison Square Garden crowd enjoyed.
"Same answer I always give: right place at the right time," Drury said.
His goal in the closing seconds of regulation of Game 5 against the Rangers rescued the Sabres in the playoffs.
New York didn't have to wait long to reap the benefits of his arrival.
"Wasn't that nice?" Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "That was the first thing I thought about, 'OK, now it's our turn."'
Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan and Martin Straka also scored in the third period as the Rangers turned a 2-1 deficit into a rousing victory. Often-booed defenseman Marek Malik assisted on three of the final-period tallies, Jagr set up two, as did Drury who had a helper on Straka's goal with 6:58 left that made it 5-2.
Michal Rozsival gave the Rangers a 1-0 advantage just 37 seconds into the game.
Brett McLean and Nathan Horton scored second-period goals for the Panthers, who seemed to have the game in hand before the late meltdown.
"We have to learn that whatever happens we have to go back after them on the next shift," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "It was a bad couple of minutes."
Tomas Vokoun made 20 saves in his Panthers debut, but didn't make a good first impression. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for the Rangers, who recorded only nine at the other end through 40 minutes.
"As a goalie when your team struggles for a little bit, you just have to hang in for a few minutes," Lundqvist said.
Drury slid on a knee while pumping his fist after he brought the fans to their feet. Callahan followed with his goal 12 seconds later.
Quite a turnaround after Florida took control in the second.
"It was tough," Vokoun said. "They scored goals to take the game away from us."
The Panthers tied it at 1 just 2:14 into the period when Gregory Campbell put a shot off Lundqvist's left pad after gaining control of the puck behind the net. McLean was in perfect position in front and quickly flipped the rebound past Lundqvist.
|New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan celebrates his third-period goal as he skates past the Florida Panthers' bench.|
It wasn't long before Florida claimed its first lead of the young season.
"In the second period I thought there was only one team on the ice and it wasn't the New York Rangers," Renney said.
Helped by the fact that Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi and forward Colton Orr were without sticks, Horton snapped a shot past Lundqvist at 9:47. The goal sparked Horton to dart right for the Panthers bench for celebratory hugs.
By the time the hard-hitting period ended, Florida held a 21-9 shots advantage - including 12-4 in the dominant middle frame - and sent the Rangers off to boos from an already impatient crowd.
It was a short fuse for a team that reached the second round of last season's playoffs, added free agents Drury and Scott Gomez, and took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the opener for the second straight year.
But by the final minute, the fickle crowd was chanting "We want the Cup!"
"We didn't deserve to hear anything but what we heard," Renney said. "If you do good things they'll embrace you. If you don't, hold onto your hat."
Following Jagr's theatrics of 2006, when he scored 29 seconds into the season against Washington, Rozsival did the same at 37 seconds on the first shot.
Certainly not the start Vokoun wanted in his first game with the Panthers following four seasons of at least 25 wins with Nashville.
Notes: McLean scored 15 goals last season with Colorado, all at even strength, making him the only NHL player with that many without one on the power play or short-handed. ... Jagr moved into a tie with Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque for the most points in season openers with 30 (9 goals, 21 assists). ... Former Rangers D Brian Leetch, whose No. 2 will be retired later this season, dropped the ceremonial faceoff.