NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at NY Rangers
(Tuesday, February 3rd)
Final Score: Atlanta 2, NY Rangers 1 (SO)
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Slava Kozlov recorded the game-winning goal in the shootout, as the Atlanta Thrashers blew a late lead but held on for a 2-1 win over New York on the night that former Ranger Adam Graves had his No. 9 jersey retired at Madison Square Garden.
Kari Lehtonen was stellar in goal for Atlanta and was mere seconds away from his 13th career shutout, but ended with 39 saves for the Thrashers, who put the brakes on their four-game losing streak. Joe Motzko scored his first goal of the season in the victory.
Markus Naslund's 16th goal tied the score with 10.6 seconds remaining in regulation for New York, which is winless in its last three games (0-2-1) and has scored only three goals during that span. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for the Rangers.
The Thrashers carried a 1-0 lead into the final minute of regulation and had remained ahead in the third period mostly due to the play of Lehtonen. With under a minute to go, the Rangers pulled Lundqvist for the extra attacker. The win appeared to be sealed for the visitors when Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk had the puck above the right circle, but he somehow missed the wide open net with his uncontested wrist shot.
The mistake proved costly, as a dramatic New York goal sent the contest beyond regulation. With the 6-on-5 action at a furious pace, the Rangers had the puck in their offensive zone. Scott Gomez held control of the puck behind the net and feathered a pass into slot, where Naslund rifled home a wrist shot at the 19:49 mark and the home crowd erupted.
"I thought to myself 'here we go again'," said Lehtonen about the Naslund goal. "We hadn't won here in a long time, but the break before the overtime was good. It was enough time for me to regroup for the remainder."
After a scoreless overtime, both skaters converted in the first round of the shootout. New York's Nikolai Zherdev was the next shooter and he failed to score before Kozlov's wrist shot, after he skated in deep along the right side, beat Lundqvist.
"It was so quick," said Lundqvist. "They had two chances and it was over. You can't expect to win every time, but when you lose it's frustrating."
Lehtonen then stopped the final attempt by Fredrik Sjostrom and the Thrashers -- especially Kovalchuk -- skated off satisfied with the victory.
Following two scoreless periods, the Thrashers moved ahead at the 6:26 mark of the third on Motzko's tally. Lundqvist attempted to clear the puck around the back of the net, but it was intercepted by Marty Reasoner. He sent a blind backhand pass that went through the crease and directly to Motzko, who easily deposited the disc into back of the cage from the left post.
The Rangers are 2-3-1 in games when a player's jersey is retired...New York fell to 16-8-3 at home this season...Motzko's last NHL goal was scored against these Rangers on December 12, 2007...Graves scored a team-high 52 goals in the 1993-94 regular season and added 10 more during the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup title that playoff season. Graves ranks third in goals (280) and 10th in points (507) in franchise history. He won several club awards in recognition of his contribution to the community, including the Steven McDonald Award (1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, and 2000), the Rangers Fan Club Ceil Saidel Memorial Award (1996, 1997 and 2000) and the Crumb Bum Award (1993). Graves is a two-time Rangers MVP (1993, '94) and joined Rod Gilbert, Eddie Giacomin, Mike Richter, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch as the only Rangers to have their jersey numbers retired.
02/04 00:08:30 ET