Skip to main content

New York Rangers 2, Atlanta Thrashers 3 FINAL @NHLdotcom

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.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.