PHILADELPHIA – Jaromir Jagr spoiled Peter Forsberg’s Philadelphia debut.

Jagr scored a pair of power-play goals in the third period, leading the New York Rangers to a 5-3 victory over the Flyers as the NHL returned after a lockout canceled the 2004-05 season.

Jason Strudwick, Jamie Lundmark and Marcel Hossa also scored for the Rangers, who overcame a two-goal deficit with four straight goals.

Forsberg had two assists in his first game with the Flyers after leaving Colorado, where he helped lead the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup championships.

Mike Richards, Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, who hadn’t played a game that counted since losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Tampa Bay 161/2 months ago.

With Forsberg in the penalty box for tripping, the Rangers went ahead 4-3 on Jagr’s second goal with 8:34 remaining. Jagr wristed a shot from inside the right faceoff circle past goaltender Robert Esche.

Hossa gave the Rangers a two-goal lead 33 seconds later, stunning a sellout crowd of 19,821 fans that turned out to see the new-look Flyers.

Philadelphia general manager Bob Clarke quickly revamped the roster once the lockout ended, putting together a team that came in as a strong favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

The Flyers added Forsberg, Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje while letting go veterans John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte. They also brought up highly-touted rookies Jeff Carter and Richards from the AHL champion Philadelphia Phantoms.

But the Rangers weren’t intimidated.

New York tied it at 3 on Jagr’s first power-play goal early in the third. Just 13 seconds into the man-advantage, Jagr snapped a wrist shot past Esche.

Lundmark’s goal following an errant clearing pass by Carter in the second period cut it to 3-2.

Forsberg, a two-time NHL MVP and arguably the best player in the league, showed off his impeccable passing skills with a pair of assists in the opening 15 minutes.

Forsberg picked up a loose puck after New York’s Jed Ortmeyer turned it over, skated down the left side and slipped a pass to Gagne, who one-timed a shot inside the right post to tie it.

The Flyers capitalized on a two-man advantage to take a 2-1 lead 2:15 later. With Jagr and Darius Kasparaitis in the penalty box, Eric Desjardins sent a pass into the right faceoff circle to Forsberg, who fed it to Knuble in the slot. Knuble one-timed a shot past goalie Kevin Weekes for his first goal since joining the Flyers after spending the last four-plus seasons with Boston.

Richards made it 3-1 in the second period with a hard-fought goal. Richards took an outlet pass from Desjardins, outmuscled defenseman Fedor Tyutin and lifted a shot over Weekes’ left shoulder.

Esche stoned Michael Nylander on a penalty shot after Forsberg pulled him down on a breakaway in the second period.

Strudwick gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead midway through the first. He slapped a shot from just inside the blue line that took a tricky bounce off the ice and went past Esche.

There was no lingering resentment over the lockout in Philly. Known for their loyalty and devotion to the Flyers in a city that’s notoriously tough on its teams, orange-clad fans filled the Wachovia Center and welcomed back the defending Atlantic Division champions with rousing ovations and familiar chants of “Let’s Go Flyers!”

They roared when Forsberg was introduced during an electrifying pregame ceremony that included a video montage reflected off the ice.

And they taunted Jagr and cheered loudly – no surprise – when Donald Brashear sent the perennial All-Star to the ice with a hard check in the first period.

Midway through the third, the first boos were heard after New York tied it up and controlled play for several minutes. The boos grew louder after the Rangers took the lead.

Notes: Hatcher sat out the first game of a three-game suspension for elbowing Calgary’s Matthew Lombardi in the head during the 2004 playoffs when he played for Detroit. … The Flyers were 1-for-10 on the power play, including three two-man advantages. … It was the first time the Flyers and Rangers played a season opener in Philadelphia. … The Rangers host Montreal on Friday night.

AP-ES-10-05-05 2202EDT


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