NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, October 16th (All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (2-0-1-0) at New York Rangers (0-2-0-0), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers try to start the season with a four- game unbeaten streak tonight when they visit the winless New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Marc Savard's third-period goal on Tuesday kept Atlanta without a loss, as the Thrashers rallied twice for a 2-2 tie with the New York Islanders at Philips Arena. Patrik Stefan also scored for Atlanta, which is off and running on the heels of the tragic death of forward Dan Snyder. The Thrashers opened the season with consecutive victories over Columbus and Washington.
Atlanta's fast start is a far cry from last fall, when the club went 0-8-1-1 in the month of October. That, however, was under former coach Curt Fraser, who returned to Atlanta as an Islanders assistant Tuesday. Fraser was fired last December and eventually replaced by current benchman Bob Hartley.
Prior to Tuesday's contest, Thrashers winger Dany Heatley, the driver in the automobile accident that took Snyder's life, issued a statement regarding the situation for the first time, expressing his sorrow. Heatley, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee, is sidelined indefinitely, but said he'll soon meet the media to address his rehab and team-related issues.
Atlanta will return home after tonight and face Chicago on Saturday.
New York, meanwhile, is 0-2 for the first time since 1998-99, when the club began with four straight defeats. After a disheartening 5-3 loss to Minnesota on Friday, the Blueshirts were pounded 5-0 by the host Columbus Blue Jackets the following night.
Against Columbus, Jussi Markkanen blocked 31 of 36 shots he faced for the Rangers, who are trying to get back to the postseason for the first time since 1997. Columbus jumped out to an early 2-0 first-period lead on goals by Trevor Letowski and David Vyborny.
On Friday, the Rangers held a 3-1 lead in the second period, but the Wild rallied with four unanswered tallies to close out the match.
On the history watch tonight, New York captain Mark Messier enters tied with Raymond Bourque for third place on the NHL's all-time assist list with 1,169 career helpers.
The Rangers open a season-long six-game homestand tonight and will host Carolina on Saturday.
Atlanta swept four games from New York last season and has won five straight overall. The Thrashers have won in three consecutive -- and five of their last six -- trips to the Garden.
10/16 10:11:23 ET