Tucker, Kidd, Sundin Dump Rangers
November 30, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) -- Trevor Kidd just wanted to get through the first period of his first game of the season.
Then everyone on the Toronto Maple Leafs could relax.
Kidd has been out since undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason. He made his debut a successful one when he stopped 33 saves Sunday night in the Maple Leafs' 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
"It was nice to show the guys. I'm sure they were watching on the bench to see how I would do," Kidd said.
Mats Sundin scored the go-ahead goal and assisted on an insurance tally, and Tom Fitzgerald, Darcy Tucker and Mikael Renberg also scored for the Leafs, who won their fifth straight following a five-game winless streak (0-2-2-1).
Toronto played 17 of its first 25 games on the road and came out of it 12-6-5-2 and on top of the Northeast Division. They play seven of the next 10 at home, beginning with a rematch against the Rangers on Tuesday.
"We can't go home and just think because we're home we're automatically going to get wins," forward Owen Nolan said. "It's not pretty hockey but we're finding ways to win."
Toronto has won three straight on the road and earned its third victory in four days.
"We probably didn't get into bed until 3 o'clock," coach Pat Quinn said. "Kidd was good and the defense was really brave and worked hard. We had a lot of good performances ... they dug down for the win."
Alex Kovalev and Jan Hlavac had goals for the Rangers, whose four-game unbeaten run ended (3-0-1).
"This game was ours if we wanted it, but we didn't play well enough," forward Bobby Holik said.
Kidd was peppered early as the Rangers put the pressure on toward the midway point of the first period. He was kicking out rebounds left and right, until he finally got caught.
Tom Poti let go a drive that hit Kidd and caromed into the slot. No one picked up Kovalev, who found the net at 9:08.
Fitzgerald tied it 1-1 just 2:32 later by getting to a rebound of Joe Nieuwendyk's back-hander and sliding it past Mike Dunham.
"That was a big sigh of relief," Kidd said. "To get out of that first period tied 1-1 and have some shots and make some saves, I'm sure everybody just forgot about me being in there and just concentrated on the game."
It was Fitzgerald's third goal of the season and first in 15 games.
Sundin broke a 2-all tie just 34 seconds after the Rangers got even. Toronto was on the power play after New York's Matthew Barnaby went after Nolan seconds after the Toronto forward got out of the penalty box for going after Rangers agitator Darius Kasparaitis.
Barnaby goaded Nolan into fighting, but also was given a roughing penalty that cost the Rangers just as Nolan hurt the Maple Leafs moments earlier.
"I really appreciate what Matthew did," Kasparaitis said. "That's a perfect example of playing as a team."
Nolan hit Kasparaitis with an elbow along the boards and took an extra penalty for roughing. The Rangers cashed in with 2:37 left in the second period.
"I just gave him back a little bit of his own medicine," Nolan said.
Eric Lindros made a perfect pass from behind the net out to Hlavac, who beat Kidd. New York has scored at least one power-play goal against the Leafs in six straight meetings.
A Rangers power play also led to the goal that gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Kovalev turned over the puck at the Toronto blue line, and Tucker jumped on it and skated away. He was caught as he got to the Rangers zone and carried the puck into the left circle.
Tucker then wound up and slapped a shot past Dunham to give Toronto its first lead at 7:02 of the second. It was the second short-handed goal scored by the Maple Leafs this season and the first allowed by New York.
Toronto made it 4-2 at 6:05 of the third when Renberg's shot hit Poti's skate and changed direction on its way past Dunham.
Kerry Fraser extended his NHL record by refereeing his 1,500th regular-season game.
Notes: The Maple Leafs haven't shut out the Rangers since Nov. 15, 1967, when Johnny Bower did it in Toronto. ... Maple Leafs LW Gary Roberts didn't play after the first period because of a strained muscle in his lower body. ... Dunham made 23 saves in his second start in three games after missing four due to injury.