NEW YORK – While Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk made a big splash in his return from injury Thursday night, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist had far less success after missing two games with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
Lundqvist allowed four goals -- one by Kovalchuk -- on 26 shots as the Rangers lost 5-3 to the Thrashers at Madison Square Garden.
"Of course I can feel that I haven't played in a while and to start the game giving up a goal right away was tough," said Lundqvist, who allowed Colby Armstrong's goal just 19 seconds into the first period. "The whole night was a big battle. I could feel some technical mistakes. It is something I have to work on."
Lundqvist made a big mistake by misplaying a puck late in the second period that led to the Thrashers' fourth goal. He shot the puck from behind his net and around the wall, but it went right onto the stick of Thrashers center Rich Peverley. Atlanta's leading point-producer one-timed a pass to an uncovered Evander Kane, who snapped a quick shot from just outside the crease past a surprised Lundqvist.
"The fourth goal was a miscommunication between Hank and (defenseman Michal Rozsival)," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Rozy is calling for it and that ends up in the back of the net. That is a pretty pivotal play right there."
However, the tone for a tough night was set with Armstrong's lightning-quick goal, one that Lundqvist lamented heavily after the game.
"It is tough to let in a goal like that right away," said Lundqvist, whose record fell to 8-6-1. "They didn't have that many shots but they got pretty good scoring chances. It was tough to play but I tried to stay in there and tried to play my game."