NEW YORK (AP)—Petr Sykora showed just how happy he was to get out of Anaheim and move into his own version of Fantasyland.
Sykora was thrilled with the weekend trade that sent him to New York and he made the most of his Rangers debut, posting a goal and assist in a 4-2 victory Tuesday night over the Calgary Flames.
“It feels great to be on this team,” Sykora said with through a wide smile. “It’s not like coming to a new team. I know so many of the guys. I feel I’m a big part of it already.”
Sykora wasn’t comfortable in the land of Disney but he was at ease in the Rangers dressing room that has six other players from his native Czech Republic. One is idol Martin Straka, who was set up for a goal by his countryman and then assisted on Sykora’s first with the Rangers.
“I’m going to be telling my kids that Straka got a helper on my first goal,” said Sykora, who like Straka comes from the town of Pizen.
Straka and Sykora helped the Rangers rally from an early 2-0 deficit, and Jason Ward put the finishing touches on the win when he netted his first in 17 games to snap a tie 5:37 into the third period. Dominic Moore added an empty-net goal with 37.5 seconds remaining.
That sent the Northwest Division-leading Flames to their second straight loss following a four-game winning streak.
“We’ve been getting up and maybe we sit back a bit,” Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. “Maybe we play too safe and we stop making plays.”
Sykora, acquired Sunday from Anaheim, made an immediate impact in his return to the Atlantic Division. He had only seven goals and 20 points with the Mighty Ducks in 34 games but needed just 32 minutes to net two points with the Rangers.
New York rallied in the hard-hitting game for its second straight victory after three straight overtime losses.
“Against a hardworking team that has skill, we have to play a full game,” Phaneuf said. “We didn’t do that and it cost us.”
After Henrik Lundqvist make a big save on Iginla following a pretty setup by Tony Amonte, the Rangers cut the deficit in half. Sykora made a pass from the goal line into the slot to Straka, who ripped a shot past Kiprusoff at 5:03— two seconds after a Rangers power play expired.
Sykora used Phaneuf to tie it.
Again, the former New Jersey Devils star, positioned himself along the Calgary goal line. He attempted another centering pass that struck Phaneuf and ricocheted into the net to make it 2-2 with 7:51 remaining in the second period.
Straka was thrilled to see Sykora rewarded.
“When you score a goal and you play well, you have to be happy,” he said.
The Rangers seemed to be in a lull during the first period, perhaps already looking ahead to Thursday’s festivities when longtime captain Mark Messier will have his number raised to the Madison Square Garden rafters.
Even if it wasn’t already in their thoughts, they were reminded by the stenciled number behind each goal.
“I saw behind the net, the number 11 and I started to think about it,” Lundqvist said.
Calgary jumped on New York just 20 seconds after Petr Prucha was sent off for interfering with Kiprusoff.
Phaneuf, who along with Prucha and Lundqvist are in the second tier of NHL rookies behind stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, netted his 11th by banking in a shot off of New York defenseman Marek Malik.
Warrener, another defenseman, made it 2-0 with his first goal in 34 games.
It was a sudden, unexpected burst.
Lundqvist was coming off his second shutout of the season in the Rangers’ 4-0 win Saturday over Florida, which came on the heels of a 1-0 overtime loss to Tampa Bay in his previous start.
But he was sharp the rest of the way and finished with 19 saves. He made several good stops during the Flames’ late second-period power play after the Rangers tied it. Calgary had another power play in the third and pressed for the tying goal, but couldn’t beat Lundqvist, who by that time was having his name chanted again by the appreciative crowd.
Flames D Roman Hamrlik, who assisted on Phaneuf’s goal, missed the previous 12 games with a knee injury. … The Rangers, who had 29 shots, are 37-50-15 against the Flames—25-23-5 at home. … Straka has 22 points in 16 games.