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NHL ROUNDUP : Rangers Fall Behind, 6-1, Rally Past Capitals, 8-6

For almost 20 minutes Thursday night at Landover, Md., the New York Rangers could do nothing right. They trailed the Washington Capitals, 6-1, and appeared in for a beating.

But in one of the biggest games of the first half of the NHL season, the Rangers did a remarkable turnabout.

Mike Gartner’s goal with less than eight minutes remaining capped a comeback and helped the Rangers to an 8-6 victory. It was their seventh victory in a row and put them in a tie with the Capitals for first place in the Patrick Division.

Michal Pivonka led the assault on the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie, Mike Richter, getting his first hat trick in a little more than five minutes.

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But from the time John Vanbiesbrouck replaced Richter, the Rangers dominated. In the last 40 minutes, Vanbiesbrouck faced only seven shots.

A goal by John Ogrodnick that barely beat the light signaling the end of the first period cut the deficit to 6-2. But even though the Rangers outshot the Capitals, 18-4, in the second period, New York trailed, 6-3, going into the final 20 minutes.

Don Turcotte had a goal and an assist early in the third period, and the Rangers were back in the game. Paul Broten’s goal cut the lead to 6-5, and Kris King tied the score a minute past the middle of the period.

Gartner’s shot from the slot for his 21st goal put New York ahead, and Segei Nemchinov completed the scoring into an empty net with 36 seconds left.

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“I never saw a comeback like this,” Ranger Coach Roger Neilson said. “Everything went wrong in the first period. Coming back from a 6-1 deficit is some feat in this league.”

Washington Coach Terry Murray seemed stunned.

“It just kept snowballing,” he said. “It got worse and it got worse. Giveaway after giveaway.”

Boston 3, Hartford 2--The Bruins extended their unbeaten string against the Whalers to nine games, but this one at Boston wasn’t easy.

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Steve Leach scored on a power play with 34 seconds left in regulation to break the 2-2 tie. The Bruins are 8-0-1 against the Whalers since Nov. 23, 1990.

Adam Burt scored to tie the score for the Whalers at 3:09 of the final period.

Montreal 4, Quebec 1--Kirk Muller scored his first goal in 12 games late in the second period at Quebec to put the Canadiens ahead. Ten seconds later, Joe Carbonneau scored his second goal and the Canadiens were rolling.

The Canadiens have won three in a row; the Nordiques are 0-5-2 in the last seven games.

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St. Louis 3, Chicago 1--Persistence paid off at St. Louis. After failing to score against Ed Belfour on 21 shots in the first period, the Blues rallied for the victory.

The Blues scored twice in the second period on only seven shots. Brett Hull broke a 1-1 tie with his 35th goal late in the period.

New York Islanders 5, New Jersey 5--Derek King scored the tying goal at Uniondale, N.Y., with only half a second left in regulation.

The Islanders trailed, 5-3, before Rob DiMaio scored a short-handed goal with 3:35 left.

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There were 69 shots in the game, 36 by the Devils.

Minnesota 3, Winnipeg 2--Todd Elik took over as playmaker for the North Stars, who ended the Jets’ eight-game unbeaten streak at home.

Elik assisted on all three goals, setting up Mike Modano’s game-winner midway through the third period.


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