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Sean Avery reminded the Madison Square Garden crowd just what it was missing while he was away.
The NHL's premier pest returned Sunday in his first home game with the New York Rangers in nearly a year and provided plenty of energy in a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins. Nikolai Zherdev scored the go-ahead goal with 6:22 left to give the Rangers their first three-game winning streak since Jan. 10-16.
New York is 3-1-1 since John Tortorella replaced fired coach Tom Renney.
Avery landed a hit on his first shift and drew the ire of Milan Lucic, Marc Savard and Mark Recchi during an eventful first period in which he nearly scored and almost set up a goal.
Avery, who rejoined the Rangers this week after being banished by the Dallas Stars following crude comments he made in December, recorded his first point in his second stint with New York. He assisted on Ryan Callahan's second-period goal that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead, but that edge was gone before four minutes elapsed in the third.
Zdeno Chara got Boston within one by beating Henrik Lundqvist with a slap shot 2:12 into the third while the teams skated 4-on-4. Michael Ryder tied it 1:35 later with 10 seconds left on Dan Girardi's four-minute, high-sticking penalty.
Chuck Kobasew had a first-period goal on a breakaway to get Boston even at 1.
Nik Antropov, playing his first home game at Madison Square Garden after being acquired from Toronto, had a goal and an assist, and Scott Gomez added a power-play goal in the second for the Rangers.
Zherdev netted the winner against Manny Fernandez, who got caught out of position while chasing Marc Staal's shot that went wide. The puck slid past the left post and caromed off the end boards and out the right side to Zherdev, who scored his 19th goal into the open net.
Fernandez made 26 saves but dropped his fifth straight since Jan. 8 (0-3-2) while backing up No. 1 goalie Tim Thomas. Boston leads New Jersey by eight points in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference despite a 1-3-1 skid.
Avery's previous Rangers home game was Game 3 in the second round of last year's playoffs against Pittsburgh when he suffered a lacerated spleen. He signed a four-year deal with Dallas during the summer, but was sent away by the Stars following public remarks regarding players dating his former girlfriends.
He heard his name chanted when he first hit the ice 2:53 in and went right after P.J. Axelsson along the boards. Avery got tangled up with Lucic and Savard near the benches later in the first and then had an exchange with Recchi. Lucic also fell on Avery along the boards in a later encounter. The biggest cheer came when his assist was announced to the adoring crowd, where several fans sported jerseys with his name on the back.
Antropov gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead 3:01 into the second, and Kobasew tied it 2 minutes later. Gomez restored New York's lead with 7:48 left in the period and Callahan made it 3-1 at 16:26.
Lundqvist finished with 36 saves, and held off Boston in the final 1:22 after Avery took a questionable interference penalty.
This program aired on March 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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