NEW YORK -- Before Sunday's game, Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky told his team what to expect at Madison Square Garden. While many of his younger players had never been to the famed arena before their 5-1 victory over the Rangers, Gretzky, who spent 1996-99 with the team, made his first non-ceremonial visit since his last NHL game at the Garden on April 18, 1999.
"It's just a special place. I was telling my guys before the game, the atmosphere here is one of the best you're ever going to see in the hockey world," Gretzky said. "I had three great years here. It was nice to come back, and it was an enjoyable night."
Unlike his last time at the Garden, when Jaromir Jagr scored the winning goal in overtime for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gretzky got to leave the ice smiling. His team's continued offensive burst -- they've scored 16 goals in four games and won three of four amid a grueling six-game trip -- probably also made his return all the more memorable.
Center Joel Perrault, who was called up from San Antonio on Friday, was the first to strike for the Coyotes on a power play in the first period after an attempted backhanded pass to center Peter Mueller deflected off the right skate of Rangers defenseman Fedor Tyutin past goaltender Steve Valiquette, who started in place of Henrik Lundqvist.
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The Coyotes carved up Valiquette for four more goals in the next period. Coyotes left wing Daniel Carcillo and right wing Radim Vrbata scored in the first 3:30 to give the Coyotes a three-goal cushion. After passing to defenseman Keith Ballard, right wing Fredrik Sjostrom put back the rebound for a 4-0 lead.
DEVILS 4, FLYERS 2, at Newark, N.J. -- John Madden scored two goals and Martin Brodeur made 29 saves, including a game-turning stop on a penalty shot, to lead New Jersey past Philadelphia.
FLAMES 5, BLUES 3, at St. Louis -- The top line of Jarome Iginla, Kristian Huselius and Daymond Langkow combined for 12 points, and Calgary beat St. Louis for its fifth road win in a row. Iginla had two goals and two assists, and Huselius scored a goal and had four assists.
PANTHERS 3, BLACKHAWKS 1, at Chicago -- Jay Bouwmeester had a goal and an assist to end an eight-game stretch without a point, and Tomas Vokoun made 44 saves to help Florida hand Chicago its sixth loss in seven games.