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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 2nd (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (26-32-6-2) at New York Rangers (23-30-7-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of teams on the fringe of the playoff race meet in the back end of a home-and-home series tonight, when the Atlanta Thrashers visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Thrashers picked up a win in Atlanta on Sunday, defeating the Rangers, 3-2. Atlanta now has 60 points and is 12 behind the New York Islanders for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Rangers, meanwhile, are 14 points out of a playoff berth and are likely to miss the postseason for the seventh straight year.

On Sunday, Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the Atlanta lineup after being benched in its previous game and scored two goals to lift the Thrashers.

Kovalchuk was not in the Atlanta lineup during the Thrashers' 3-2 win over New Jersey last Friday for missing a team meeting. He responded with the two goals to push his league-leading total to 35 this season. Kovalchuk recorded his sixth multi-goal game of the campaign.

Patrik Stefan also scored and Pasi Nurminen finished with 28 saves, as Atlanta won the front end of the home-and-home series to improve to 6-0-1 in the last seven meetings between the teams.

Atlanta won at home for the first time since January 20 against Buffalo, a span of seven games (0-5-2).

Chris Simon and Brian Leetch, whose name remains in the trade rumor mill, scored for New York, which has dropped seven of its last nine contests.

The road team is 11-4-1 in the last 16 matchups between these teams, and the Thrashers are unbeaten in their four previous trips to MSG (3-0-1).

03/02 10:24:48 ET

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