Drury, Briere Have Strong Debuts

Friday, October 5th 2007, 7:44 am
By: News On 6

Chris Drury and Daniel Briere had strong debuts with their new teams, and Chris Mason and Niklas Backstrom were perfect in their first games as starting goalies.

Drury's first goal in a Rangers uniform snapped a third-period tie and sparked a late outburst that carried New York to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Drury, signed this summer after helping Buffalo eliminate the Rangers in the second round of the playoffs, put in a rebound of Jaromir Jagr's shot 8:46 into the third period to give New York a 3-2 lead and spark an outburst of three goals in a little more than four minutes. It was Drury's 38th winning goal in the regular season, and 53rd counting the playoffs.

``Same answer I always give: right place at the right time,'' Drury said.

Drury's former Sabres teammate Briere scored his first two goals for Philadelphia to help the Flyers beat Calgary 3-2, spoiling Mike Keenan's coaching debut with the Flames. Briere connected on the game-winner with 1:48 left.

``It was pretty cool, but it's not just about me,'' Briere said. ``It's about the team, but there's no doubt that personally it feels great to help your team and doing your part for a big win like tonight.''

Mason, given Nashville's No. 1 goaltending spot after Tomas Vokoun was traded to Florida in the offseason, made 35 saves for his ninth career shutout in the Predators' 4-0 victory over Colorado.

``I really wanted to make a statement and hopefully I did that,'' Mason said. ``Getting a shutout was as good as I could have hoped for. But this is only one game. I want to show everyone that I can do this throughout the season.''

Backstrom stopped 27 shots in Minnesota's 1-0 win over Chicago for his sixth career shutout.

In other NHL games Thursday night, it was: Ottawa 3, Toronto 2; Tampa Bay 3, New Jersey 1; Phoenix 3, St. Louis 2; and Edmonton 3, San Jose 2 in a shootout.

In New York, Petr Prucha, Ryan Callahan and Martin Straka also scored in the third period as the Rangers turned a 2-1 deficit into a rousing victory. Marek Malik assisted on three of the final-period tallies, and Jagr and Drury finished with two assists apiece. Michal Rozsival also scored for the Rangers.

Brett McLean and Nathan Horton scored second-period goals for the Panthers. Vokoun made 20 saves in his Florida debut, and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for the Rangers.

At Calgary, Alberta, Mike Knuble and Briere scored in the first period to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. The Flames tied the game on a pair of goals from Daymond Langkow.

``It's a tough way to lose but we have to look at ourselves and know that we can't spot teams a lead like that and have a start like that,'' Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.

Martin Biron made 24 saves for the Flyers while Miikka Kiprusoff made 23 saves for the Flames.

At Nashville, Tenn., the line of Jason Arnott, J.P Dumont and Vernon Fiddler accounted for three goals and three assists for the Predators. Arnott had two goals and an assist, Dumont had a goal and an assist and Fiddler added one assist.

``We got a few things rolling in preseason and it has carried over into the regular season,'' Arnott said. ``I played with J.P last year so I move extremely well with him. Fiddler is the new guy and works so hard out there. A lot of people don't know how skilled he is.''

Tyler Weiman scored Nashville's fourth goal.

At St. Paul, Minn., Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored the only goal in support of Backstrom, who was given a two-year, $6.2 million contract in June that led the team to deal Manny Fernandez to Boston.

In his first game under the burden of the big money and the starting job, Backstrom was just as sharp and calm as when he was a 29-year-old rookie who helped the Wild make the playoffs for the second time in franchise history. He didn't give up many rebounds and didn't budge when the Blackhawks had a brief 5-on-3 midway through the second period.

``It's easier when you don't have to think too much,'' Backstrom said.

Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 23 shots.

Senators 3, Maple Leafs 2

Daniel Alfredsson's scored twice, including the game-winner on a power play with 4:59 remaining, to lift host Ottawa.

Dany Heatley also scored for the Senators, and Mats Sundin and Matt Stajan scored goals 32 seconds apart in the second period for Toronto.

Lightning 3, Devils 1

Vincent Lecavalier scored twice, including a tiebreaking goal with 3:52 left in the third, spoiling Brent Sutter's debut as visiting New Jersey's coach.

Vinny Prospal had an empty-netter with 58 seconds left for the Lightning, Martin St. Louis had three assists and Johan Holmqvist stopped 26 shots.

Brian Gionta scored for the Devils and Martin Brodeur made 21 saves.

Oilers 3, Sharks 2, SO

Jarret Stoll scored in the shootout for host Edmonton after San Jose's Joe Thornton scored the tying goal on a power play with 11 seconds left in regulation.

Tom Gilbert and Kyle Brodziak scored in regulation for the Oilers, and Patrick Marleau had San Jose's other goal.

Coyotes 3, Blues 2

Rookie Daniel Winnik's first NHL goal, at 7:30 of the third period, stretched host Phoenix's lead to 3-0 and stood as the game-winner.

Keith Tkachuk and Brad Boyce scored late in the third to pull the Blues to 3-2, but the Coyotes hung on.

Keith Ballard and Mike York also scored for Phoenix.