Final

Series (Game 1 of 2)

Minnesota leads 2-0

Game 1: Friday, October 10th
Rangers3Final
Wild5
Game 2: Wednesday, February 4th
Wild4Final
Rangers3

Rangers 3

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

Wild 5

(1-1-0, 2 pts)

8:30 PM ET, October 10, 2003

Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minnesota

1 2 3 T
NYR 1 2 03
MIN 1 3 15

S. Zholtok (Wild - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

P. Bouchard (Wild - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

B. Bombardir (Wild - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Bombardir helps spoil Rangers' opener

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Already a defensive-minded team, the Minnesota Wild are without their top three scorers from last year.

They did just fine looking a little further down the list for offense Friday.

Brad Bombardir capped a crazy second period with the go-ahead goal to give the Wild their first victory ever over the Rangers and spoil New York's season opener 5-3.

Enforcer Matt Johnson, who had only three goals last year, also scored in the second. Bombardir, a defenseman, had one of his seven career goals last season.

"To be successful, you need everyone to chip in at different times," said Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire, who is missing Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis to holdouts. Free agent Cliff Ronning wasn't re-signed.

The Rangers had won the five previous meetings with the Wild, including three at Xcel Energy Center. They led 3-1 midway through the second after Tom Poti and Matt Barnaby scored 43 seconds apart.

"We were just able to battle back with the typical character of this hockey club," Bombardir said.

Filip Kuba and Johnson brought Minnesota back to a tie with goals spanning just 28 seconds. A delayed penalty was called on the Rangers with less than 5{ minutes left in the second, and the Wild took advantage. Sergei Zholtok dropped a behind-the-back pass to Andrew Brunette, who found Bombardir open at the blue line.

Bombardir's shot sailed over New York goalie Mike Dunham's shoulder, and the overflow sellout crowd of 18,568 left happy after the Wild's fourth home opener. They were 8-1-2 in October last year and went on a surprising run to the Western Conference finals, where they were swept by Anaheim.

"This is the time of year when you look for any points possible," Zholtok said.

The big-budget Rangers haven't made the playoffs since 1997. They were looking for a better start to their first full season under Glen Sather -- the president and general manager who added coach to his title last January when he fired Bryan Trottier.

New York outshot Minnesota 28-19 (including 10-1 in the final period), but they were scoreless on eight power-play chances.

"We kept trying to do the things we were trying to prevent last month," Sather said, referring to training camp. "In the second period, we had 21 turnovers. You can't win a hockey game like that. We've got to do better."

Lemaire put three newcomers -- Alexandre Daigle, Marc Chouinard and Christoph Brandner -- on a line together to keep Rangers star Eric Lindros in check. It worked.

"There were some basic things that we had some miscues on," Lindros said. "You're forced to press and the defense is forced to pinch, then you get a bad break on a two-on-one and that's the deal."

Lindros was talking about Daigle's goal with 3:07 remaining that put the game away. Daigle was trying to pass to Willie Mitchell, but the puck glanced off the shaft of Poti's stick and past Dunham. That was Minnesota's only shot of the third period.

"It's kind of early to start worrying about things," Poti said. "We just have to get back after it."

Game notes


Manny Fernandez made 25 saves for Minnesota. ... Jan Hlavac scored for the Rangers in the first period. ... The Wild honored the late Herb Brooks with a video tribute before the game, and surviving family members participated in a ceremonial puck drop. Brooks, who coached the Rangers from 1981-85 after leading Team USA to the gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, died in a car accident in August. ... D Brian Leetch (ankle), RW Pavel Bure (knee) and G Dan Blackburn (shoulder) are on New York's injury reserve list. RW Richard Park (knee) is on Minnesota's list. ... Lindros was hit in the face by an inadvertent high stick in the corner from Minnesota's Wes Walz during the first period, but Lindros later returned. The Wild were called for four high-sticking penalties. ... D Alex Henry, claimed by Minnesota off waivers on Thursday from Washington, was scratched.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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