<
>

Ryder's goal lifts Canadiens over Rangers in OT

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens already have a shootout
specialist. He's Michael Ryder and he doesn't even wait for the
NHL's new tiebreaker.

Ryder struck late for the second straight night, firing a wrist
shot off goaltender Kevin Weekes 2:10 into overtime to give the
Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday.

The 25-year-old forward won Wednesday's season opener at Boston
by scoring the clinching goal with 11 seconds left. Taking
Montreal's only shot of the overtime against the Rangers, Ryder let
one go from the right circle that appeared to hit Weekes' stick on
the way in.

"I don't know if it hit his pad or what it went off, but it
managed to go in," said Ryder, who also scored Montreal's first
goal Thursday.

Three goals in two games is a fine start, even better when you
consider that Ryder missed five exhibition games with a sprained
right ankle. He came back to score two preseason goals and set up
another.

Ryder hasn't missed a beat now that the games count.

"Right now he's hot," captain Saku Koivu said. "Two big, big
goals for us. Somebody has to do it, but he's been doing it."

The Rangers, who opened the season by rallying from a two-goal
deficit to win at Philadelphia on Wednesday, salvaged one point
when Dominic Moore tied it with 2:36 left in regulation.

"It does show some type of mettle about our team but that's not
a habit we want to get into," coach Tom Renney said.

Alexander Perezhogin gave the Canadiens a 3-2 lead in the second
period with his first NHL goal in his first game.

Perezhogin, the last Canadiens forward to make the roster,
didn't dress Wednesday. He got into the lineup Thursday because of
Richard Zednik's groin injury that sidelined him early against the
Bruins.

And he made the most of his opportunity.

Perezhogin took a lead pass from former Rangers star Alex
Kovalev and scored on a breakaway 6:07 into the middle period.

Chris Higgins also scored for Montreal, which has a game in
Toronto on Saturday before its home opener against Ottawa on
Tuesday. Jose Theodore made 16 saves for his second straight win.

Marcel Hossa, acquired last Friday from Montreal, scored his
second goal of the season and Martin Rucinsky added one for the
Rangers.

The Rangers fed off the emotion of a 20-minute pregame ceremony
for the home opener and took the play to Montreal during the first
few minutes.

"I thought for a second game in two nights that we came out a
little flat, but as the period went on and in the second period we
really played well," Theodore said. "We worked hard and we were
able to get the win in overtime."

Hossa gave New York its second 1-0 lead in two nights when he
finished off a pretty passing play with Martin Straka and Steve
Rucchin -- who each have three assists -- and slammed a shot past
Theodore just 65 seconds in.

The Rangers had a chance to grab a two-goal lead when Jan Bulis
was sent off for hooking at 1:28 and four minutes later when Pierre
Dagenais was whistled for holding but they couldn't cash in on the
power play. They finished 1-for-6 while killing off 10 of 11
short-handed situations.

"We want to play 5-on-5 hockey," Rucchin said. "It's
unacceptable, too many penalties. You're not giving yourself a very
good chance to win when you're in the penalty box as much as we
have been. We are really fortunate to have gotten three out of four
points."

Fans were in full throat urging on the home team that hasn't
made the playoffs since 1997 -- when former captain Mark Messier
said goodbye to the Rangers the first time and Wayne Gretzky wore
No. 99 in New York blue.

But the only parade the cheering faithful were treated to was
the march to the penalty box the Rangers staged through the
preseason and now through two regular-season games. It didn't cost
them much on Wednesday, either, because the Flyers managed just one
power-play goal in 10 chances.

Montreal had five power plays in the first period, but again the
Rangers' penalty killers limited the damage to just Ryder's goal
that tied it at 1 at 9:03.

"We didn't play good enough to win the hockey game. We should
be happy to take a point," Jaromir Jagr said.

Higgins gave the Canadiens their first lead against the Rangers
at 15:00 when he took a pass from Tomas Plekanac and directed it
past Weekes, who made 24 saves.

Game notes
Montreal leads the series between the Original Six clubs
309-178-94. They are 119-118-54 at Madison Square Garden. ...
Kovalev has two assists in two games. ... The Canadiens have won
five straight road games against the Rangers. ... New York, which
killed two of three 5-on-3 disadvantages Wednesday, fought off two
more Thursday.