ATLANTA (AP) -The New York Rangers wasted their last chance to beat a team just playing out the string.
Ilya Kovalchuk rallied the Thrashers from a three-goal deficit and Todd White scored the only goal in the shootout to give Atlanta a 5-4 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.
The Rangers, who led 4-1 late in the second period, have seven games left - all against potential playoff-bound teams - as they fight for position in a tight Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Rangers are one point behind sixth-place Pittsburgh. New York will travel to face the Penguins on Saturday.
"We've got to be a lot better, since we're going to be facing a better team on Saturday," Rangers backup goalie Steve Valiquette said.
Valiquette stopped Bryan Little, Slava Kozlov, Kovalchuk, Eric Perrin and Rich Peverley in the shootout before White flipped the puck past his glove.
"Where is our killer instinct when we're playing someone lower in the standings?" Valiquette asked.
"We have to stay up, of course, because we have a big game coming up in a couple of days. Nobody wants to get too down and too negative, but tonight wasn't exactly a forward performance for us."
Kovalchuk scored late in the second period and assisted on third-period goals by Colby Armstrong and White as Atlanta tied it with 6:50 remaining in regulation.
Kovalchuk has nine goals and 13 assists in his last 12 games. The Thrashers, already eliminated from playoff contention, have won eight of 11.
"We need to play for our fans right now," Kovalchuk said. "We want to be better and make sure the fans have a good time."
Kovalchuk scored with 20.6 seconds remaining in the second period to start the comeback.
"To give one up on the road with under a minute left in the period is a killer," said Rangers captain Chris Drury, who had a goal and two assists. "That's not why we lost, but it certainly changed things in their locker room going into the third."
Atlanta improved to 7-1 in shootouts.
New York, 29th in the NHL on the power play, broke a 1-1 tie with man-advantage goals by Nik Antropov and Drury within a span of 1:30 midway through the period. Markus Naslund added another second-period goal for the 4-1 lead.
"I think we are fortunate enough to get a point, and we were very fortunate to get that," Rangers coach John Tortorella said.
At Montreal, Saku Koivu scored 3:15 into overtime and the Canadiens recovered from squandering a two-goal lead in the third period.
The Canadiens won their second in a row following a five-game losing streak.
At Philadelphia, Brett McLean scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, backup Craig Anderson made 40 saves, and Florida snapped a three-game losing streak. Cory Stillman, Radek Dvorak and David Booth also scored for the Panthers.
Jeff Carter scored his team-leading 41st goal and Scott Hartnell added a goal for the Flyers, who had won three in a row.
At Nashville, Tenn., Radek Bonk scored a power-play goal and added an assist to lead the Predators.
Martin Erat and Greg Zanon also scored for Nashville. Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi netted San Jose's goals.
At Columbus, Ohio, Steve Mason made 16 of his 33 saves in the third period for his franchise record 10th shutout as Columbus rolled in a possible first-round playoff preview.
Mason leads the NHL in shutouts and has the most for a rookie since Tony Esposito had 15 for the Chicago Blackhawks in 1969-70.
Jason Williams had two power-play goals, Rick Nash had a career-high four assists, and Kristian Huselius also had four assists.
At Dallas, Justin Williams scored in the third round of the shootout and Los Angeles ended a three-game losing streak.
Anze Kopitar gave the Kings the advantage in the first round of the shootout, making a nifty move to fake Marty Turco out of position, then tucking the puck into the net one-handed.
But Dallas' Jere Lehtinen drew the Stars even in the third round, beating Jonathan Quick with a forehand shot from the slot.
Williams was up next, and he gave the Kings the extra point when his shot trickled over the goal line after Turco appeared to make the stop. The officials went to video replay, which showed the puck over the goal line.
At St. Louis, David Perron scored a power-play goal early in the third period to lead the Blues.
Perron and T.J. Oshie each had a goal and an assist for St. Louis, 8-2-1 during a Western Conference playoff push.
Chris Mason stopped 21 shots for his first career victory over the Canucks in eight appearances. Mason, who played in his 25th straight game, improved to 21-20-6 after a 3-13 start.
David Backes added his 25th goal of the season for St. Louis, and Andy McDonald put the game away with a 5-on-3 tally with 34 seconds left.
Taylor Pyatt and Alex Burrows scored for Vancouver.
At Glendale, Ariz., Martin Hanzal scored the winning goal and Phoenix handed the Oilers their third straight loss.
Matthew Lombardi had a goal and an assist, and Ken Klee also scored for the Coyotes, who won their third in five games.
Ales Kotalik and Ales Hemsky netted Edmonton's goals.
|Nikolay Zherdev (23) ASST: Brandon Dubinsky (28), Fredrik Sjostrom (5)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Vyacheslav Kozlov (23) ASST: Rich Peverley (25), Tobias Enstrom (22)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Nik Antropov (26) ASST: Chris Drury (30), Derek Morris (10)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - Chris Drury (19) ASST: Steve Valiquette (1)|
3 - 1 NYR
|Markus Naslund (23) ASST: Chris Drury (31), Derek Morris (11)|
4 - 1 NYR
|Ilya Kovalchuk (39) ASST: Todd White (47), Anssi Salmela (4)|
4 - 2 NYR
|Colby Armstrong (18) ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (45), Anssi Salmela (5)|
4 - 3 NYR
|Todd White (21) ASST: Ilya Kovalchuk (46), Colby Armstrong (14)|
4 - 4 Tie
|1||B. Little||M. Naslund||0 - 0|
|2||V. Kozlov||N. Antropov||0 - 0|
|3||I. Kovalchuk||C. Drury||0 - 0|
|4||E. Perrin||R. Callahan||0 - 0|
|5||R. Peverley||F. Sjostrom||0 - 0|
|6||T. White||S. Gomez||1 - 0|
|Paul Mara Hi-sticking against Colby Armstrong|
|Bryan Little Tripping against Marc Staal|
|Ilya Kovalchuk Interference against Marc Staal|
|Ron Hainsey Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Markus Naslund Too many men/ice - bench|
|Sean Avery Interference on goalkeeper against Kari Lehtonen|
|Eric Perrin Hooking against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Ryan Callahan Tripping against Tobias Enstrom|
|Nathan Oystrick Interference against Markus Naslund|
|Marty Reasoner Hi stick - double minor against Chris Drury|
|Markus Naslund Slashing against Tobias Enstrom|
|Vyacheslav Kozlov Roughing against Ryan Callahan|
|Brandon Dubinsky Roughing against Garnet Exelby|
|Garnet Exelby Roughing against Brandon Dubinsky|
|Ilya Kovalchuk Hi-sticking against Sean Avery|
|Jim Slater Hi-sticking against Derek Morris|