December 9, 2007 / 8:01 PM / in 10 years

Nik Antropov hat-trick powers Maple Leafs past Rangers

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nik Antropov’s second career hat-trick led the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday, their fourth successive win.

<p>Toronto Maple Leafs center Nik Antropov (80) reacts with a grin as he skates past New York Rangers defenseman Marek Malik (8) after he tipped a shot into the net for his third goal in the third period of their NHL game in New York, December 6, 2007. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine</p>

Antropov gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead with his first goal on the power play at 5:11 of the second period, then added an even-handed goal at 16:40 of the second period before he completed the hat-trick on a power-play at 3:34 of the third.

It was his first hat-trick since his rookie season in 1999.

“I remember it was on December 20 in Florida, almost eight years to the day,” Antropov said. “It’s a great feeling in the dressing room right now,” he added.

Matt Stajan and Mats Sundin had given Montreal a 2-0 lead in the first period while Alex Steen completed the scoring with 1:16 left in the game.

Dan Girardi and Fedor Tyutin scored power-play goals for the Rangers in the first period.

Toronto netminder Vesa Toskala made 23 saves for the victory.

New York’s Henrik Lundqvist gave up four goals on 10 shots before being replaced by Stephen Valiquette, who yielded two goals and made four saves.

“I know I have to play better than I did,” said Lundqvist. “When you look at the goals, a couple of deflections, a couple of rebounds. Sometimes the puck just finds a way to get past you.”

*Chris Higgins scored one of Montreal’s three first-period goals, and his 12th this season, and had two assists in the Canadiens’ 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

Kyle Chipchura and Tomas Plekanec also scored in the first period for the Canadiens, who ended a three-game skid and beat Boston for the seventh successive game.

*Vincent Lecavalier scored his 19th goal of the season and assisted on Martin St. Louis’ goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning recorded a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Carolina’s Cory Stillman scored with 14 seconds remaining to spoil Johan Holmqvist’s shutout bid. Holmqvist made 23 saves.

*Daniel Sedin scored twice in the third period as the Vancouver Canucks posted a 5-2 road victory over the Nashville Predators.

*Kris Letang’s shootout goal lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 road victory over the Calgary Flames.

Writing by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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