Martin Rucinsky had a goal and three assists, and Brian Leetch a goal and assist for his first multipoint game this season, leading the Rangers to a 6-2 victory Sunday over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night. That snapped a four-game winless streak.
Messier was back with his Rangers teammates after spending Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta—skating in an outdoor old-timers game with his former friends with the Oilers.
That game took place in subzero temperatures, where ski hats and long underwear became standard. He got back to New York around midnight Saturday night, and felt fine Sunday.
“I didn’t have my long-johns on tonight,” the 42-year-old Messier said. “It was the same as coming back from any game on the road.”
The rest of the Rangers came back from a winless road trip Thursday after losing at Colorado. Messier and coach Glen Sather took a detour to Edmonton for Saturday’s Heritage Classic.
“We’ve been playing well, but we haven’t gotten the results we would have liked,” said Messier, who leads the team with eight goals.
Leetch scored his second of the season in the second period and set up Rucinsky in the first for the Rangers, who went 0-2-2 on the trip. Leetch was playing in just his 11th game this season after missing the first nine due to an ankle injury.
“Every day I’m getting stronger physically,” Leetch said.
Alex Kovalev had a goal and two assists, and Bobby Holik, Jan Hlavac and Petr Nedved added goals for New York, which scored only seven on the road trip. It was the Rangers’ first home game since a 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 12.
“It was one of those games where everybody clicks,” Rucinsky said.
The Senators, who had beaten the Rangers four straight times, looked a step slow as they played for the third time in four days. They lost in overtime at Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
“We can’t use that as an excuse,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
Alfredsson’s goal 5:02 into the second period pulled Ottawa to 2-1, but by the time Senators defenseman Wade Redden scored in the closing minute of the period the Rangers had added two more.
“It took away some of the momentum that we’d built,” Senators coach Jacques Martin said.
Rucinsky scored the only goal in the first off a pass from Leetch at 6:40. Holik made it 2-0 just 1:32 into the second, when he was set up by Rucinsky and Kovalev.
Leetch called Rucinsky’s game the best he’d seen by a forward this season. Messier said Rucinsky has been the Rangers’ most consistent forward.
“We had the right guys playing well tonight,” Messier said after his 1,700th NHL game. “Coming off the road it’s always a little bit nervous. But we responded well.”
Alfredsson’s ninth of the season cut the deficit in half during a power play at 5:02, but Leetch scored at 6:34 to make it 3-1. Hlavac’s power-play score restored New York’s two-goal advantage with 6:02 left in the period.
Redden scored a power-play goal with 44.6 seconds remaining to get Ottawa to 4-2. But New York took complete control in the third when Nedved and Kovalev scored 13 seconds apart to give the Rangers a 6-2 lead.
Jussi Markkanen, playing for the first time since the birth of his child this week, made 23 saves. He was again subbing for regular Mike Dunham, who is recovering from a groin injury that has kept him off the ice the past three games.
Patrick Lalime allowed all six goals on 22 shots, before being replaced byMartin Prusek.
The Senators hadn’t lost to the Rangers since March 21, 2002. Their previous loss in Madison Square Garden was Dec. 23, 2001. … Rangers C Eric Lindros returned after missing four games because of an eye injury. … It was the 219th multipoint game of Leetch’s career. … The Senators are 1-3-0-1 in their last five games and are tied for last place in the Northeast Division after reaching the Eastern Conference finals last season. … The Rangers agreed to terms with G Phil Osaer, who had been playing with Hartford of theAHL. He served as Markkanen’s backup.