|ATL||0||0||2||1||(0 - 0)||3|
|NYR||0||2||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
NEW YORK (AP) - Bobby Holik wasn't thrilled about the way the Atlanta Thrashers won and he didn't care that they beat his former team.
With a playoff spot still out of reach, the two-time Stanley Cup champion was only happy that they escaped Madison Square Garden with a key two points in the standings.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the tying goal late in regulation and Marc Savard netted the winner 2:45 into overtime on Atlanta's second shot of the extra session, lifting the Thrashers to a 3-2 comeback victory Sunday that sent the New York Rangers to their fifth straight loss.
"It's a 60 or 65-minute game, so if you don't score the first little while, hopefully you score at the end," said Holik, who spent the previous two seasons with the Rangers. "We don't want to be behind two goals every time. Sooner or later you're not going to come back."
Atlanta improved to 5-2 since the Olympic break, earning its fourth overtime victory in the span despite falling behind 2-0 in the second period.
The Thrashers, two points behind eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference playoff race, won for the fifth time this season when trailing after two periods.
"I like what I see," forward Peter Bondra said. "We're getting rewarded. We don't give up on the play and we show some character at the same time but there is a long way for us to get to where we want to be."
After failing on their first six power-play chances, Atlanta took advantage of a 5-on-3 situation when Savard set up Kovalchuk's 42nd goal with 4:41 left in regulation.
Then with Martin Straka serving a stick-holding penalty in overtime, Kovalchuk returned the favor and assisted on Savard's 25th goal - a rising shot from the right circle that found the top corner behind Henrik Lundqvist.
"He's a player that can change momentum," Bondra said of Kovalchuk. "It's nice to see that our elite players succeed and help us win a game."
That is something the Rangers have experienced just once in six games since the Olympic break.
New York, which lost 1-0 at Montreal on Saturday night, has scored just six goals in its longest skid of the season. The Rangers have earned two points during the slide, both in overtime losses this week to the Thrashers.
Kovalchuk's goal came as the Rangers were down two men, the second penalty was a delay-of-game call against Darius Kasparaitis.
"I thought we were going to win," said Jaromir Jagr, whose NHL-leading 44th goal gave New York a 2-0 edge. "Some calls were tough against us, some calls were fair. We had a 2-0 lead, we should have been able to win the hockey game."
Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves, including 16 in a busy second period.
Lundqvist stopped 28 shots but still hasn't won in four starts since leading Sweden to the Olympic gold medal two weeks earlier. The first-place Rangers are trying to find their offense as Philadelphia closes in on the Atlantic Division lead.
"It's not good for us and it's not going to get better until we win," Jagr said. "I'm hoping it's not too late to stop it. I thought we had a big chance today and we didn't do it."
Straka gave New York a 1-0 lead 5:39 into the second period.
Lundqvist, in his fourth straight start following a two-game layoff after the Turin Games, made 10 saves in the first period when New York killed off Atlanta's three power plays, and faced only three in the second.
Lehtonen started off shaky and fought off many shots - including some that came from long range - and got stronger the rest of the way.
It was only the second time in five games the Rangers managed more than one goal, and both came against the Thrashers.
Notes: Rangers rookie Petr Prucha and Sandis Ozolinsh assisted on Jagr's goal. Prucha missed the previous eight games with a knee injury. Ozolinsh - acquired Thursday from Anaheim - earned his first point with New York. ... New York LW Martin Rucinsky was knocked out by a left knee injury in the third period. ... Rangers D Marek Malik sat out for the sixth straight game with a shoulder injury. ... Petr Sykora's assist on Straka's goal was his 500th NHL point. ... Atlanta RW Marian Hossa didn't get a chance to play against brother Marcel, who was scratched from the Rangers' lineup. ... Injured Atlanta D Garnet Exelby missed a second consecutive game.
|Martin Straka (13) Wrist shot - ASST: Steve Rucchin (20), Petr Sykora (24)|
1 - 0 NYR
|PPG - Jaromir Jagr (44) Wrist shot - ASST: Petr Prucha (10), Sandis Ozolinsh (4)|
2 - 0 NYR
|Ronald Petrovicky (8) Backhand shot - ASST: Bobby Holik (10)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Ilya Kovalchuk (42) Wrist shot - ASST: Marc Savard (55), Niclas Havelid (21)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Marc Savard (25) Wrist shot - ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (39)|
3 - 2 ATL
|Jaromir Jagr Hi-sticking against Brad Larsen|
|Michal Rozsival Hooking|
|Peter Bondra Interference against Fedor Tyutin|
|Martin Rucinsky Hooking against Bobby Holik|
|Jaroslav Modry Interference|
|Eric Boulton Hi-sticking against Dominic Moore|
|Bobby Holik Roughing against Martin Rucinsky|
|Jim Slater Holding|
|Niclas Havelid Holding against Michael Nylander|
|Martin Rucinsky Interference|
|Michael Nylander Hooking against Marian Hossa|
|Blair Betts Cross checking against Jim Slater|
|Darius Kasparaitis Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Martin Straka Holding the stick against Niclas Havelid|