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Rangers host Thrashers, look for fourth straight

by Dan Rosen
THRASHERS (3-4-1) at RANGERS (4-2-1)


Season series --
It's the first of four meetings between the clubs this season, but they won't play again until Jan. 22 in Atlanta.

Big Story --
It's early, but these are two teams heading in different directions right now. The Thrashers hope to change course Wednesday as they ride into New York on a three-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Rangers hope to stay on course and extend their current three-game winning streak.

Team Scope:

Thrashers -- The good news came Monday when goalie Ondrej Pavelec was activated. Pavelec collapsed on the ice just 2:25 into the Thrashers' season-opener on Oct. 8 and suffered a concussion thanks to the fall. He was sent to the AHL's Chicago Wolves on Tuesday for a rehab start Wednesday and is expected in net for Atlanta on Saturday in St. Louis. In the meantime, the Thrashers are seeing the benefit of playing Andrew Ladd in an offensive role. Ladd, a former first-round pick for Carolina, has a team-high 8 points. He's playing on a line with Bryan Little and Niclas Bergfors. Defenseman Noah Welch will be with the team in New York due to injuries to Zach Bogosian and Freddy Meyer.

Rangers -- It's a testament to teamwork -- and more than that, even, hard work -- that the Rangers have managed to win three straight without Marian Gaborik, Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury in the lineup. They're getting fantastic goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and very composed play from guys like Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and, yes, even Sean Avery, who has 5 assists in seven games. Defenseman Michal Rozsival, often booed by the Garden crowd, has been one of the team's top performers so far this season.

"We're trying to model ourselves after a team that has won, and done it for a long time," Avery said. "That's winning three or five games in a row, and not losing two in a row."

Who's Hot -- Dubinsky leads the Rangers with 7 points, including a goal and 2 assists in the last two games. Rozsival is on a three-game point streak (1-3-4). … Evander Kane scored 2 goals Saturday in the Thrashers' 4-3 overtime loss in Washington and now has 5 goals this season.

Injury Report --
Rangers coach John Tortorella told reporters Tuesday that Drury (broken finger) is going through early morning workouts on his own, but he'll be out a few more weeks. Gaborik (shoulder) is hoping to return to the ice in two weeks and Prospal (knee surgery) is out indefinitely. … Bogosian (shoulder) will miss his sixth straight game and Meyer (mid-body injury) is also likely out.
Stat Pack -- If Ladd keeps up his current point-per-game pace, he'll finish with 82 points this season. His career high is 49, a mark he hit two seasons ago. Ladd was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 Entry Draft because he was a point-per-game player who could be held accountable in the defensive end. Now that he's in a top-six role, he might reach his full potential.

Puck Drop --
Looking to keep perspective on a three-game winning streak, something the Rangers accomplished only four times last season, Rangers coach John Tortorella had this to offer reporters after Tuesday's practice:

"We've played three pretty good games here, but it shouldn't be something special or to be sky-high about it."

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