Rangers in need of a win as Thrashers pay visit
Monday, 12.14.2009 / 7:00 PM
Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff WriterTHRASHERS (16-11-3) at RANGERS (14-15-2)
Atlanta 6-4-0; New York 3-6-1
This is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Thrashers came away with a 5-3 victory at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12. Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists in his first game back after missing two weeks with a broken foot.
Neither team is playing its best. Atlanta has lost four of its last six games and needed to go past regulation to pick up the two wins. New York has lost six of seven and is struggling to get anything going offensively.
After losing three straight on the road, Atlanta returned home to pick up a 4-3 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. The Thrashers were down 2-0 early before rallying, and goaltender Johan Hedberg liked what that type of win said about the team.
"We did a great job coming back," said Hedberg, who earned the win. "We had a really good second period. They ended up scoring two goals on two shots. Still, we don't stop. We keep going. We showed a lot of character coming back there."
"It started in the first period, giving up 19 shots against. It's not the way we play. We play well defensively, we don't let those shots through. Any time a team gets that many shots, you know we're doing something wrong."
On Nov. 23, the Rangers exploded for seven goals in a 7-4 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. But since then, goals have been hard to come by; they've scored just 13 in their eight games since drubbing the Blue Jackets. After a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, the players were once again left shaking their heads.
"Obviously we need to crash the net more, get pucks into the paint, and get an ugly one there late in the period or even in the second (period)," Ryan Callahan
said. "I thought we were forechecking well and we had the puck in their end and controlling them. It's just a matter of getting the pucks to the net, getting a guy there and getting an extra crack at it."
Hedberg is making a case for more playing time. He's 4-1-0 in his last five starts and has allowed just 10 goals over that span. Hedberg stopped 33 of 36 shots at MSG earlier this season, so he could be in line for the start Monday.
No matter how bad things get for the Rangers, Marian Gaborik
finds a way to score. During the Rangers' recent 13-goals-in-8-games slump, Gaborik has 4 goals and 5 assists.
Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen is still a week or two away from being able to return from back surgery.
is close to returning from a broken wrist, but he won't be in the lineup Monday for the Rangers.
So much for getting Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
some added rest this season. He's started 12 of the team's last 13 games, and with Chad Johnson
(a rookie with no experience) backing him up, it's hard to see when Lundqvist might get his next breather.
It's getting to the point where the standings are becoming a cause for concern. The Thrashers are seventh in the East with 35 points, while the Rangers sit in 12th place with 30 points, three back of the eighth and final spot. But Lundqvist feels the Rangers are doing everything they can to get out of their funk.
"Bottom line, we know we have to win," Lundqvist said. "We are doing a lot of good things and the work ethic is definitely there. We work really hard. We just come up short a lot of nights. I don't know what else to say. We just have to keep battling and hopefully it will turn around."