NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at NY Rangers
(Thursday, November 12th)
Final Score: Atlanta 5, NY Rangers 3
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Ilya Kovalchuk made a successful return to the lineup with a goal and two assists and Johan Hedberg turned in a strong 33- save performance, as Atlanta defeated the New York Rangers, 5-3, at Madison Square Garden.
Rich Peverley also logged a goal and two assists while rookie and fourth overall pick in this year's draft Evander Kane posted a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who saw the return of Kovalchuk after a nearly three-week absence due to a broken bone in his right foot.
"We've (conditioning coach) been working pretty hard so conditioning wasn't a problem," Kovalchuk said upon his return to the ice. "I decided if I'm going to feel good tonight and I can play 100 percent (then) I'll go."
Colby Armstrong got Atlanta's first goal and Maxim Afinogenov put on the finishing touches with an empty-net tally as the Thrashers won for the fourth time in six games.
"I thought we played an overall good game. When we had our chances we buried them," Peverley said. "We need to play a good overall game to win and I thought we did that. Instead of sitting back and playing on our heels we need to get in their zone, create some chances and not sit back."
Marian Gaborik scored his 13th goal of the year and added and assist for the Rangers, who have lost eight of their last 11 games. Brian Boyle and rookie Artem Anisimov also scored while fellow first-year Blueshirt, defenseman Michael Del Zotto, notched two assists.
Henrik Lundqvist, returning from a two-game absence because of a right leg injury, was beaten four times on 26 shots.
The Thrashers made it a 2-1 affair four minutes into the second. Kovalchuk's power-play blast from the left point found its way to Peverley, whose shot deflected in off Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi's face.
But New York evened the score with a power-play goal on Gaborik's quick release off a pass from Del Zotto just outside the right circle with 4:32 left in the period.
However, a little over two minutes later Slava Kozlov wound up with the puck in the right corner off a successful Thrashers forecheck and passed back to Kovalchuk, who unleashed a wicked wrist shot from above the left circle that found the top right corner of the net.
Atlanta wasted little time in taking a two-goal edge, capitalizing on a failed clearing attempt by Lundqvist to score just 25 ticks later. Peverley pinned himself along the right boards and immediately swung a pass down low to Kane, who popped the water bottle from in close for a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes.
Boyle got one back for New York, scoring off a rebound of Ales Kotalik's slap shot from the right point 6:18 into the third. That's as close as the Rangers would get, though, as Hedberg stood tall with 17 third-period saves and Afinogenov scored an empty-netter.
Atlanta gained an early lead just 19 seconds in as Kane rushed up the left wing and set up Armstrong in front for a tip past Lundqvist.
"I could feel I hadn't played in a while and then to start the game with a goal right away it was tough," Lundqvist said. "I battled, the whole night was a big battle. I tried to stay in there and play my game. I could feel I made a couple of technical mistakes. It's something I'll have to work on."
New York tied it up less than four minutes later as Gaborik sliced down the right wing and dropped a pass in front of the net where Anisimov tipped it through Hedberg's legs.
The Rangers played their first game since centerman Brandon Dubinsky broke his right hand in Saturday's loss to Calgary. Dubinsky, who has three goals and seven assists this year, is expected to miss the next four-to-six weeks...Kovalchuk has 10 goals and three assists in nine games this season and has scored at least 41 goals in each of the past five seasons...New York's Donald Brashear skated in his 1,000th NHL game...Peverley leads the team with 20 points (8 G, 12 A)...New York had taken its last two tests at MSG and next hits the road to play Ottawa Saturday...Atlanta has taken eight of 12 overall in the series and next returns home for five straight beginning with Friday's tilt against the Kings...Kane scored his fourth goal of the season and has eight points in 15 games...Anisimov also potted his fourth of the year and has eight points in 19 games.
11/13 00:40:08 ET