GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- After struggling through the first three
weeks of the season, the New York Rangers seemed to be searching
for an identity as they set out on a four-game West Coast trip.
They may have found it in a dominating 7-3 victory over the
Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
Straka had two goals and an assist and Jagr added a goal and
three assists as the Rangers improved to 5-5 on the season.
"It's huge," coach Tom Renney said. "We feel we can compete
with anybody in the league. We didn't come out of the gate at all
like we wanted to, and we want to rectify that.
"We happen to be on a good road trip here that will allow us,
we think, to really galvanize as a group and obviously get the wins
that we're looking for, and really kind of kick-start us into the
balance of the season," Renney said. "That's our objective."
"Everything went wrong tonight," Phoenix defenseman Derek
Morris said. "When we get down one or two goals, we've got to get
that mentality that we've got to come back. We've got to get one
and go get the other one, and it seems to go the other way for
Phoenix started fast, with Jones scoring at 2:18 of the first
period to put the Coyotes ahead 1-0.
"I really don't know what to say other than we played a good
first 10 minutes," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We got the
lead and then we got on our heels."
The goal only woke up the Rangers, who dominated the rest of the
way. Jagr said the team felt less pressure than it would have in
Madison Square Garden.
"We said, 'Let's have fun," Jagr said. "It's tough to do
that at home. You're down one goal and you want to rush it back.
You don't play with the patience you should. On the road, it's
different. You've still got a lot of time. You've got 50 minutes
The Rangers spent much of that time controlling the puck -- and
firing it at beleaguered Phoenix goaltender David LeNeveu, who
allowed seven goals on 35 shots.
New York tied it 1-1 on Straka's fifth goal of the season at
10:06. Michael Nylander made a crisp cross-ice pass to Straka, who
was all alone on the left post and flipped the puck past LeNeveu.
The Rangers put the game away with four goals in a 10:33 span of
the second period. They led 2-0 when Matt Cullen scored at 1:13 of
the second period.
Then Jagr scored a trademark goal, swatting in a rebound of
Ward's shot at 4:23.
"I felt we had more patience," Jagr said. "We didn't rush
Straka's second goal of the night came when LeNeveu left a
rebound in the crease. Straka plucked it out of a crowd and
backhanded it into the net, giving the Rangers a 4-1 lead.
New York made it 5-1 on Petr Prucha's second goal of the season,
The Rangers outshot Phoenix 14-7 in the first period and 16-7 in
New York iced it on Ward's goal at 4:32 of the third period, his
second of the season.
Gretzky, facing his former team for the first time as a coach,
said he was impressed with the way the Rangers controlled play.
"We did not skate whatsoever," Gretzky said. "That team was
hungrier than we were and deserved to win, fair and square. They're
very smart and they skate well."
Gretzky spent the final three seasons of his career with
New York, retiring in a Rangers sweater in April 1999. ... The
Rangers made their first trip to the desert since Dec. 29, 2003,
when they beat Phoenix 3-2 in overtime. ... Coyotes RW Shane Doan
(back) was scratched for the second consecutive game. ... Referee
Don Koharski left the game in third period after being hit in the
face with a puck.