TORONTO (AP) -Petr Prucha waited 17 games and then some for a night like this.
Unable to finish in front, or from anywhere else, since mid-November, Prucha scored two of the New York Rangers' season-high, five power-play goals in a 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
"It's a miracle," he said. "I was waiting for it a long time, and I just want to keep scoring ... and get some confidence."
Prucha had two goals in 36 games this season, none on the power play before Saturday. He has missed one game this season, when he was a healthy scratch last Sunday against Ottawa.
He was pointless for the seventh straight time Wednesday in his return, but finished off two passing plays during New York's best offensive night of the season.
Prucha sported a heavy ice pack on his left hand after the game, the result of a slash, but said an X-ray showed he was OK.
"My confidence was shaken just in front of the net and I couldn't score a goal," he said. "The one thing that was missing from my game was points. I'm just glad I did it tonight."
He wasn't alone.
Jaromir Jagr had a goal and three assists, linemate Martin Straka had one of each, Brendan Shanahan added a power-play tally, and Blair Betts scored for the first time in 12 games - New York's only even-strength goal.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the first and stretched it to 5-0 through 40 minutes. They have 10 power-play goals in two games, both wins, after netting five in the previous eight (2-4-2).
"It's the first time in about 10 games we have something going on the power play, our unit anyway," Jagr said. "We have to wait and see. The power play won the game for us."
Backup goalie Steve Valiquette has two wins this season, both in front of his parents in Toronto. He came out on top in a shootout on Nov. 10. Henrik Lundqvist is expected back in goal Sunday when the Rangers play Montreal at home.
|New York Rangers left winger Sean Avery drives Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle into the boards during the first period on Saturday at Toronto. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn|
Darcy Tucker, who had a quiet night with New York's agitating counterpart Sean Avery, ended Valiquette's shutout bid with 11:40 left.
"It's probably our best effort of the year," said Valiquette, who made 27 saves. "There's something about coming to Toronto, with all the history of hockey and coming to Canada. Sean was able to get us up for this game and really brought a lot of color to our lineup and brings us an edge."
The Maple Leafs lost in their first home appearance following a seven-game trip (2-3-2) and allowed at least five goals for the 10th time in 39 games.
Andrew Raycroft, subbing for injured Leafs starter Vesa Toskala, was pulled after giving up five goals on 28 shots. He was replaced by Scott Clemmensen, who allowed Prucha's second 1:09 into the third.
"We're a team and we're going to live and die by sticking together as a group here," Tucker said. "We have to play better in front of him."
As important as Prucha could be for the Rangers, who scored as many as five goals two other times this season, the resurgence of Jagr is critical.
Buoyed by the end of his scoring slump with two goals Wednesday against Carolina, Jagr had lots of jump.
He darted side to side to try to elude chasing 6-foot-7 defenseman Hal Gill and then created more space with brilliant passing on New York's second of three power plays in the opening period. That effort extended the Rangers' lead to 2-0.
In his six-game point streak, Jagr has three goals and eight assists.
"A lot of the times we had success against him was when we were playing in their end," Gill said. "That's what we didn't do."
The Rangers blew it open in the second period, clicking on the power play. Toronto was whistled for five straight penalties in less than six minutes - including two for shooting the puck out of play - giving New York three 5-on-3 advantages.
Shanahan made it 4-0 at 7:54 and Straka pushed the lead to five just 2:37 later with New York's fourth power-play goal in eight chances.
That was enough to send Raycroft to the bench, delighting the crowd that until then amused itself by booing Avery each time he touched the puck.
Unlike the last time the Rangers visited Toronto, the pregame warmup was bland. Avery didn't tread too close to the Maple Leafs side as he did the previous time when he and Tucker exchanged words and jabs that drew fines from the NHL office.
"We didn't play against each other too much, so that probably helped," Tucker said.
Avery got his own sense of revenge when he flung a pass from the right-wing boards that Prucha deflected in at the crease for New York's second power-play goal, making it 3-0 at 3:58 of the second.
Notes: The Rangers last scored five power-play goals in a game on March 9, 1996. The team record is six. ... Rangers C Brandon Dubinsky had a career-high three assists. ... The Maple Leafs hadn't played at home since Dec. 10.