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Game Recap

New York Rangers 2, Atlanta Thrashers 3 FINAL

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:51 AM

Associated Press

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New York Rangers 2, Atlanta Thrashers 3 FINAL
New York Rangers 2, Atlanta Thrashers 3

ATLANTA (AP) _ His brief punishment over, Ilya Kovalchuk got back to doing what he does best _ scoring goals.

Kovalchuk bounced back from a one-game benching to score his NHL-leading 34th and 35th goals, and the Atlanta Thrashers held off the New York Rangers 3-2 Sunday.

A starter for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game earlier in the month, Kovalchuk missed a team meeting before Friday night's game against the New Jersey Devils. Coach Bob Hartley held him out of that game, won by the Thrashers.

``I apologized to the team, and I just wanted to show them I was ready to go today,'' Kovalchuk said. ``That's my favorite thing to do in my life, is to play hockey.''

Patrik Stefan added a short-handed goal, and Daniel Tjarnqvist had two assists for the Thrashers, who won for the fifth time in eight games. Pasi Nurminen made 28 saves.

``Discipline is a big part of life,'' Hartley said of Kovalchuk's punishment. ``He's a great hockey player, and he's certainly a great part of this organization. He has a lot to offer on the ice, but like any other 20-year-old, he has a lot to learn.''

Brian Leetch and Chris Simon had goals for the Rangers, and Mark Messier had two assists. But New York finished 0-for-7 on the power play, including one late advantage when the Thrashers were called for too many on the ice.

Nurminen stopped a blast from Jaromir Jagr, the best chance during the penalty, and New York didn't threaten again.

``I don't know how many power plays we had, but we didn't do anything with them,'' Leetch said. ``Lately, we've had more power plays than penalties.''

The Rangers fell to 5-16 in one-goal games and lost for the seventh time in nine games overall, including an overtime defeat at Nashville on Saturday. The only two victories in that span were part of a season sweep of the New York Islanders.

``We're trying to win hockey games, but it's going to take the entire bench,'' said Rangers interim coach Tom Renney, who fell to 1-2 since replacing Glen Sather. ``I don't play to showcase people or get the young guys ice time or anything like that. We are a function of 20 guys every game and we need them all.''

It didn't take long for Kovalchuk to make his presence felt. On his first shift, he got a drop pass from Randy Robitaille and sent a slap shot that Mike Dunham knocked away with his stick.

Minutes later, Kovalchuk scored his first goal after Robitaille won a faceoff in the New York zone. The second came off a nifty pass from Dany Heatley, who sent a diagonal pass from near the blue line to Kovalchuk near the crease.

Kovalchuk waited patiently and then beat Dunham glove side for a 3-1 lead.

``I was all alone, with nobody close to me,'' Kovalchuk said. ``I like to play against the Rangers. They're a real offensive team and we always get lots of chances.''

Stefan's goal gave Atlanta a 2-1 lead late in the second period.

scoring summary
1st Period
Ilya Kovalchuk (34) ASST: Randy Robitaille (21)
1 - 0 ATL
Chris Simon (12) ASST: Mark Messier (16)
1 - 1 Tie
2nd Period
SHG - Patrik Stefan (10) ASST: Shawn McEachern (32), Daniel Tjarnqvist (12)
2 - 1 ATL
3rd Period
Ilya Kovalchuk (35) ASST: Dany Heatley (6), Daniel Tjarnqvist (13)
3 - 1 ATL
Brian Leetch (13) ASST: Mark Messier (17), Tom Poti (12)
3 - 2 ATL
Power Play Stats
Power Plays0/70/3
Power Play %19.6%15.3%
% on Road22.7%18.0%
% at Home17.6%12.1%
League Rank14th27th
penalty summary
1st Period
Ronald Petrovicky  Interference - Obstruction against  Chris Simon
Vladimir Malakhov  Hi-sticking against  Jeff Cowan
Chris Simon  Roughing against  Jeff Cowan
2nd Period
Shawn Heins  Slashing against  Vladimir Malakhov
Derek MacKenzie  Hooking - Obstruction against  Matthew Barnaby
Serge Aubin  Roughing against  Chris Simon
Derek MacKenzie  Diving against  Mark Messier
Martin Rucinsky  Interference against  Brad Larsen
Andy Sutton  Interference - Obstruction
3rd Period
Randy Robitaille  Too many men/ice - bench
goalie stats
Mike Dunham
SA: 20TOI: 58:44
Saves: 17EV: 11 - 13
PIM: 0PP: 5 - 5
SV%: .850SH: 1 - 2
Pasi Nurminen
SA: 30TOI: 60:00
Saves: 28EV: 24 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .933SH: 0 - 0