Rangers lose in OT to Toronto

February 22, 2009 8:20:42 PM PST
Niklas Hagman's power-play goal 3 minutes into overtime snapped the Toronto Maple Leafs' losing streak and delivered the latest crushing blow to the New York Rangers' sinking playoff chances with a 3-2 victory Sunday night. Pavel Kubina took a pass above the left circle from Hagman and fired a drive that Hagman tipped past goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Toronto earned the power play when Blair Betts hooked Hagman 2:07 into the extra session.

The slumping Rangers were fortunate to even earn a point as they tied it on Michal Rozsival's goal with 39.1 seconds left in regulation.

Rozsival, who earlier in the night gave up his No. 3 as it was raised to the rafters in honor of former defenseman Harry Howell, broke in No. 33 in style. With the Rangers enjoying a 6-on-4 skating advantage, Rozsival threaded a shot inside the right post from the slot.

Vesa Toskala gave up two Toronto leads but finished with 39 saves. Ian White was set to have the winning goal until Rozsival tied it.

Again failing to capitalize on a pregame ceremony honoring players from the past, the Rangers showed little ability to generate offense and lost for the 10th time in 12 games (2-7-3).

New York is in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but is only two points ahead of ninth-place Carolina - which is on the outside of postseason positioning. The Rangers, who have 21 games left, are 13 points ahead of Toronto.

The teams were scoreless entering the third period, but John Mitchell broke the deadlock with his fifth of the season and gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead at 3:54.

Frustrated fans at Madison Square Garden, who earlier in the evening celebrated the jersey retirement ceremonies of Howell (No.

3) and forward Andy Bathgate (No. 9), quickly got a chance to be excited about the current team when Scott Gomez tied it 1:59 later.

The goal announcement hadn't been completed before White restored Toronto's lead after just 25 seconds had elapsed.

Toskala started for the second straight day after he missed two games due to tests on his hip and groin. He took the home shootout loss against Vancouver on Saturday but was back to help the Maple Leafs snap their three-game losing streak (0-1-2). Toronto has two wins in seven games (2-2-3).

Lee Stempniak had two assists.

The Rangers latest loss that followed Saturday's defeat at Buffalo created renewed calls for the firing of coach Tom Renney and general manager Glen Sather from the Madison Square Garden faithful.

Despite the Maple Leafs spending large chunks of time in the Rangers zone, New York outshot Toronto 19-5 in the second period.

The Rangers recorded seven shots during their two power plays in the period, but never really came close to getting a puck past Toskala.

Notes: The teams will conclude their four-game season series Wednesday night in Toronto. ... Toskala has started 50 of the Maple Leafs' 60 games. ... The Maple Leafs earned two power plays when the Rangers were called for too many men on the ice. ... New York, which beat Toronto 1-0 in a shootout at home on Oct. 17, is 1-1-1 against the Maple Leafs this season. ... The Rangers' two wins since Jan. 28 have both come at home.