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Rangers 6, Thrashers 3 @NHL

ATLANTA (AP) - Even when he's hurting, Jaromir Jagr is still dangerous with the puck on his stick.

Jagr scored his NHL-leading 21st goal to break a tie late in the second period and the New York Rangers went on to their fourth straight win, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 6-3 Thursday night.

Jagr injured himself in practice the previous day, straining a muscle near his right hip. He underwent treatment during the first period, then took the ice after the Thrashers had overcome a 3-1 deficit.

Swooping in off right wing, Jagr found plenty of room between the circles and snapped off a shot that eluded the blocker of Atlanta goalie Michael Garnett with 2:02 left in the period.

Blair Betts made it 5-3 with 11:51 remaining, slipping behind defenseman Niclas Havelid and deflecting a pass from Marcel Hossa past Garnett. Jed Ortmeyer added an open-net goal in the final minute to send the Thrashers to their third straight loss.

``I don't know how to explain this exactly, but when you play against Atlanta, it's not very hard hockey,'' Jagr said. ``It's a lot of skating. You've got to be very careful not to miss your chances, or they'll go the other way. They've got such talented scorers, they can make you pay.''

Thrashers coach Bob Hartley criticized his players for backing off Jagr, especially when they had one more player in their defensive zone than the Rangers.

``There's no way Jagr should get that kind of room in the slot,'' Hartley said. ``We actually had four guys back. It was a three-on-four, but we just didn't communicate and the puck ended up in our net.''

While Jagr expects to be OK with a day or two to recuperate, the Rangers aren't sure about goalie Kevin Weekes. His right ankle was bruised early in the third period when the net fell on him.

Weekes remained on the ice for several minutes before heading to the locker room, holding up his leg the entire way. Henrik Lundqvist took over in the nets and blanked Atlanta over the final 17:58, though the Thrashers made things fairly easy by mustering only six more shots.

Marian Hossa, brother of Marcel, put the Thrashers ahead just 6:38 into the game with his 10th goal, but the lead didn't stand up.

Jason Ward tied it before the period was over and the Rangers knocked out starting Atlanta goalie Steve Shields with two more goals early in the second, both off rebounds. Petr Prucha scored his fourth goal 59 seconds into the period, then Shields gave up a horrible goal to Michael Nylander.

Ward got a long shot on goal and Shields guided the rebound right in front of the net to Nylander, who knocked it into the open net at 2:11. Hartley had seen enough of Shields, replacing him with Garnett.

``We need some big saves,'' Hartley said. ``The teams that are doing well in the standings are getting the big saves. You need solid goaltending.''

Shields hasn't been the answer to Atlanta's injury plagued goaltending. Keri Lehtonen hasn't played since first period of the opener, and Mike Dunham also is sidelined.

Atlanta tied the game on goals by Marc Savard and Slava Kozlov, the latter with 3:21 left in the period. But Jagr scored just over a minute later to put the Rangers ahead for good.

Jagr came into the night tied with Philadelphia's Simon Gagne for the NHL's goal-scoring lead.

``The confidence is here,'' he said. ``You can feel it. We've beaten some good teams. The confidence is building.''

Notes: The Thrashers assigned goalie Jani Hurme to Chicago of the American Hockey League, where he will play for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Hurme struggled with post-surgery complications after a back operation and failed a physical before training camp. He was acquired from Carolina on Oct. 3, 2003, but has yet to play for the Thrashers. ... Marcel Hossa wears No. 81, the opposite of his older brother's No. 18.

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