<
>

Prucha, Rucchin power Rangers past Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The New York Rangers know firsthand that
it's hard to win if you don't take advantage on the power play.

They learned the hard way in a loss at Chicago on Wednesday but
then turned the trick on the Nashville Predators in a 5-1 victory
Thursday night.

New York went 0-for-9 on power plays in falling 2-1 in overtime
to the Blackhawks. The Rangers recovered one night later and killed
off all eight short-handed situations against Nashville.

Jaromir Jagr, who had a goal and two assists, said Nashville's
problem was using the same players on the power play.

"They should really blame themselves," Jagr said. "We had the
same game yesterday where we had a lot of power plays but didn't
score. You have to score on the power play."

Petr Prucha and Steve Rucchin each scored two goals, and the
Rangers snapped the Predators' four-game winning streak.

The teams came into the game tied with the NHL's best records in
shootouts at 4-1, but the Rangers never had to worry about that in
winning for the eighth time in 10 games.

Jagr moved ahead of Jason Spezza of Ottawa for the NHL points
lead when he scored his 22nd goal at 12:31 of the first period. The
Rangers had much more energy than Nashville even though both were
playing for a second straight night.

"If you don't play physical against those guys, they can just
dominate you," Predators goaltender Chris Mason said. "Jagr's a
machine. If you don't hit him, he can just take over games."

New York, which hasn't made the playoffs since 1997, is tied for
the NHL lead with Ottawa with 42 points.

Yanic Perreault helped Nashville avoid the shutout by rookie
Henrik Lundqvist when he scored his seventh at 4:15 of the third.
But Lundqvist stopped 30 shots for New York.

"It's good to be goalie on this team right now," Lundqvist
said. "We're working really hard, and it's amazing to see how they
block the shots."

Prucha gave New York a 2-0 lead when he came out of the penalty
box within the final minute of the first, grabbed the puck and
scored on a breakaway with a backhander over Tomas Vokoun's glove.

That was it for Vokoun, who had been tied for the league lead
with 15 victories. He sprained his right knee stopping a shot from
Darius Kasparaitis at 12:15 of the first when he got tangled in the
net. He tried to return at the start of the second but couldn't
bend his knee. He will have an MRI on Friday.

"I was as surprised as everybody," Vokoun said.

The Rangers didn't give Mason, who was in goal for Wednesday
night's 5-2 victory at Washington, a chance to get comfortable.
They scored three goals on their first six shots of the second,
starting with Rucchin who scored off an assist from Jagr for his
NHL-leading 45th point.

Prucha scored his 12th of the season four minutes later, and
Rucchin made it 5-0 with his goal midway through the period.

In a game featuring two of the NHL's top three penalty killers,
the Rangers got the better of the Predators, who snapped a
franchise record of 11 straight games with a man-advantage goal.

The Predators simply passed the puck too much. They went 0-for-5
on the power play in the first period and couldn't score even with
a 5-on-3 advantage for a full minute when they took only one shot.

"That was a big penalty kill for them," Nashville defenseman
Dan Hamhuis said. "Obviously, it was a big letdown for us."

Game notes
This was only the second time this season the Predators
allowed five goals. ... Prucha has six goals in a four-game streak.
... Nashville forward David Legwand had to be helped from the ice
late in the second period with an injury to his left leg. He didn't
return. ... Vokoun played in his 300th game with the Predators
before leaving. ... Martin Straka, who helped set up Jagr's goal,
leads the Rangers with 24 assists.