NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 29th (All times eastern)
New York Rangers (23-30-7-4) at Atlanta Thrashers (25-32-6-2), 3:00 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of teams with rapidly dissipating playoff hopes skate this afternoon at Philips Arena, as the Atlanta Thrashers battle the visiting New York Rangers in the first of a home-and-home series.
The squads are locked at 58 points in the Eastern Conference -- 13 behind the eighth place New York Islanders. Either team would need a remarkable stretch run to secure a postseason slot.
The Thrashers registered a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at Continental Airlines Arena Friday night.
Dany Heatley scored the game-winning goal late in the third period and assisted on another as the Thrashers picked up the victory. Garnet Exelby and Patrik Stefan also lit the lamp as the Thrashers won for the first time in three games (1-2-0).
Pasi Nurminen made just 15 saves for the win. Nurminen is 21-23-5 between the pipes this season.
Atlanta was without the services of leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, who was scratched for missing a team meeting earlier in the day. Kovalchuk is expected to return to the ice this afternoon. Slava Kozlov, who hurt his shoulder on Feb. 13, could return for the first time in seven games as well.
Second-leading scorer Marc Savard left the game in the second period after a knee-on-knee collision with Scott Gomez and did not return. Savard will be out a minimum of seven days due to the injury.
Atlanta has scored a power-play goal in each of its last seven games. The Thrashers are winless (0-4-2) in their last six home tilts to fall to 13-14-4-0 at Philips Arena.
The Rangers can't seem to find any consistency, as they have not been able to string together back-to-back wins since late November. On Saturday, New York managed a point but still fell 2-1 to Nashville in overtime. The Rangers have posted a point in consecutive games for the first time since early January.
Jussi Markkanen was brilliant in net for the Rangers, making 41 saves. New York, however, was unable to earn two points and fell to 5-13-2-1 in its last 21 contests.
Matthew Barnaby registered the lone goal for the Rangers in the loss, tallying early in the third stanza. Greg de Vries and Mark Messier each picked up an assist in the contest.
Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr was shut out after having eight points in four games. Jagr has recorded 25 goals and 38 assists this season, splitting time between Washington and New York.
The Rangers are closing out a three game road trip. For the year, New York has tallied a 11-14-4-1 mark in foreign buildings.
These teams skated to a scoreless tie in their first meeting of the year on October 16 at Madison Square Garden. Atlanta is unbeaten in the last six (5-0-1) meetings between these squads. New York has lost two straight trips to Atlanta.
02/29 10:10:58 ET