UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Islanders captain Michael Peca has now raised the ire
of both of New York's general managers.
A day after the struggling forward was verbally challenged by Islanders GM
Mike Milbury, Peca angered Glen Sather by using his knee to take out Rangers
forward Jamie Lundmark.
Brian Leetch and Anson Carter scored during the subsequent five-minute power
play in the second period and the New York Rangers sent the New York Islanders
to their seventh straight loss with a 4-2 victory Thursday night.
Peca was ejected from the game when he stretched his leg out and hit
Lundmark, causing what appears to be a serious knee injury.
"What Peca did to Lundmark is not called for," said Sather, the Rangers
coach and GM. "There's a kid who just started to make his career in the NHL,
and Peca knees and puts him out.
"We'll find out (Friday) but he has a ligament problem for sure."
Peca didn't think the penalty was justified.
"I know on the play I didn't stick my leg out," Peca said. "He was
planted on his skates. I just tried to finish my check."
The Islanders waited until late to heed the challenge issued Wednesday by
Milbury, who criticized his goaltenders as well as his high-priced defensemen
and forwards, who have slumped.
Peca has gone 12 games without a goal and has been mentioned in trade
rumors. The Islanders have been outscored 26-7 during their losing streak, and
have managed only five goals in six games.
"If he's going to run somebody, he's not going to run a fourth-line
center," Islanders coach Steve Stirling said of Peca. "At best, it was a
Peca did take a run at Rangers center Bobby Holik in the first two minutes
of the game. When Peca hit the unsuspecting Holik, it was Peca who fell to the
"Maybe he learned a little bit from it, to go pick on other people," Holik
Leetch also scored earlier in the second to record his 24th career two-goal
game. He has never had a hat trick in the regular season, but has one in the
"I had two chances and they both went in," Leetch said of his goals. "You
really need good bounces as a defenseman to get a hat trick."
Mike Dunham made 37 saves, allowing goals to Janne Niinimaa and Alexei
Yashin in the second half of the third period. Dunham was helped by two
Islanders goals being waved off because the whistle blew before the puck
entered the net.
Martin Rucinsky sealed it for the Rangers, when he took a pass from Holik
and finished a two-on-one with 5:17 left.
But the turning point came 9:28 into the second when Peca hit Lundmark.
Lundmark spoke softly after the game and said his knee didn't hurt too badly
because it was numbed.
"I don't know what position I was in or he was in," Lundmark said. "I saw
him coming but you can never get your whole body out of the way."
Peca knows all about knee-to-knee hits as he was severely injured in the
2001 playoffs by a questionable hit from Toronto's Darcy Tucker.
The Rangers took advantage of the power play when Leetch scored his second
of the game and fifth this season 55 seconds after Peca was sent off.
Petr Nedved made a pass from the right-wing boards across the slot to
Leetch, who wristed a shot from the left circle past the glove of Rick
Carter made it 3-0 with nine seconds remaining in Peca's penalty. He was
sprung by a lead pass from Vladimir Malakhov and came in alone on DiPietro,
beating him between the pads at 14:19.
The Rangers did their damage with only 16 shots, two in the third period,
rebounding from a home-and-home sweep by Toronto.
Leetch gave the Rangers the lead 4:15 into the second. Matthew Barnaby dug
the puck out behind the Islanders' net and passed to Eric Lindros on the boards
to DiPietro's left.
Lindros crossed the pass to Leetch, who came in alone and fired a shot into
the open net as DiPietro sprawled with his glove outstretched.
The Islanders finally broke through against Dunham with 8:45 left when
Niinimaa, one of New York's expensive defenseman, scored his third during a
The Islanders closed within 3-2 when Yashin snapped in a shot from the slot
with 7:58 remaining. Yashin, the Islanders' most expensive player, hadn't
scored in 12 games.