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LEMIEUX'S OPERATION MEANS LONG LAYOFF

Mario Lemieux had arthroscopic hip surgery Monday and is expected to miss the next 3-to-4 weeks of the season.

The Penguins announced Monday that Dr. Marc Philippon of the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh operated on Lemieux as an outpatient, removing torn and damaged cartilage from his hip.

Lemieux first noticed the pain during a Sept. 22 exhibition game and missed three games because of the injury. According to the Penguins, the Hall of Fame player's condition failed to respond to physical therapy and muscle-strengthening treatments. Recent tests indicated evidence of torn cartilage.

The 36-year-old Lemieux left Saturday's game in Toronto after playing less than seven minutes.

He is not the only Penguins player to be out. In the second period of a 2-2 tie with the Florida Panthers on Sunday, forward Martin Straka, the Penguins' leading scorer, broke his right leg and is expected to be out 3-to-6 months.

Lemieux came out of retirement after 3 1/2 years last December. During his 12 NHL seasons, Lemieux battled back problems -- which required two operations -- and came back from Hodgkin's disease.

Philippon, an orthopedic surgeon, has operated on golfer Greg Norman, skater Tara Lipinski and Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler. He is a consultant to the National Hockey League.

Fleury, Messier lead Rangers

NEW YORK -- The milestones were nice. The win was better.

Theo Fleury and Mark Messier altered the record books with second-period assists as the New York Rangers scored three times within five minutes to beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 on Monday night.

"Anytime you reach a milestone it's nice to reach it with a win," said Fleury, who earned his 1,000th career point when Mike York followed up his rebounded shot to tie it 2-2 at 12:49.

Dallas dominated in the first period and much of the second until late goals by York -- his second of the game -- Sandy McCarthy and Darren Van Impe put the Rangers up 4-2.

Messier helped set up McCarthy's go-ahead goal at 15:19, tying him with Paul Coffey for fourth place on the NHL's career assist list with 1,135.

"It's a thrill to be in that position," Messier said, "but I'm not really looking back or reminiscing. We're just trying to play better."

Monday was a step in the right direction, as New York won its second in a row and showed improvement in a number of areas, including bearing down after a dreadful first period.

"When you are outshot or outplayed you have to find a way to spring back, and we did that," said Mike Richter, who made 14 first-period saves and 36 on the night.

The Rangers' progress has Messier hopeful.

"We're a little bit in transition as a team," he said. "Richter kept us in the game early but after we got that second goal, we seemed to relax and got a good mix of offense and defense going."

Messier's assist was vintage as he fought off a defender behind the net and made a sharp-angle pass to the front of the net where McCarthy dumped it in for his first of the season.

Van Impe scored on a power play at 17:41 to pad the lead.

Brenden Morrow and Pierre Turgeon scored for the Stars.

"We felt that we were in control when it was 2-1, and we kept pressing," Dallas' Kirk Muller said. "But they scored three quick goals and held us off. Richter was really good tonight."

Palffy to miss time for Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings right wing Ziggy Palffy will miss the next two games with back spasms, the team said.

Palffy, who missed Sunday's loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, was placed on the injured reserve list retroactive to Saturday and must miss the next seven days, which includes games against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and Thursday.

He'll be eligible to return for Saturday's game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Palffy has four goals and three assists in 11 games for the Kings this season.

To replace Palffy on the roster, Los Angeles recalled forward Jaroslav Bednar from their American Hockey League affiliate.

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