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Thrashers goalie Lehtonen leaves game against Rangers with groin strain @NHLdotcom

ATLANTA (AP) -Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen injured his troublesome groin again Thursday night and had to leave the game against the New York Rangers.

He will undergo an MRI in the next day or two, but interim coach Don Waddell did not sound hopeful of a quick recovery.

"Certainly, he'll be out a while," Waddell said after the Thrashers picked up their first win of the season, beating the Rangers 5-3.

After covering a shot at the side of the net with 8:30 remaining in the opening period, Lehtonen got up slowly and, bending over, skated toward the Atlanta bench. He slammed his stick against the boards before heading to the locker room.

"He had a great start to the game. He made some huge saves," said Johan Hedberg, who took over in net for the Thrashers. "We kind of built some momentum, then something like this happens. You could see his frustration.

Hedberg came on with the Thrashers leading 2-0 and made 24 saves, giving up three goals over the final 10:23 with Atlanta comfortably ahead.

The Thrashers will likely call up either 20-year-old Ondrej Pavelec, a second-round pick in the 2005 entry draft, or former NHL goalie Fred Brathwaite from their American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago.

"You hate to see a goalie ever get hurt," Waddell said. "But we're very fortunate to have other goalies who can come up. I'll talk with the coaches down there and we'll make a decision."

The Thrashers' next game is at Tampa Bay on Saturday, beginning a seven-game road stretch.

Lehtonen played only 38 games in the 2005-06 season, missing 2 1/2 months because of a groin injury. He passed up a chance to play for his native Finland in the 2006 Turin Olympics and trained extensively the next summer to build up his muscles.

Last season, Lehtonen played a career-high 68 games for the Thrashers, helping them win the Southeast Division and make the playoffs for the first time. He was off to a slow start this season along with the rest of the struggling team, coming into Thursday's game with an 0-4 record and 4.72 goals-against average.

Waddell said this groin injury was different than the last one.

"It's not the same muscle," he said. "It's much lower in his leg."

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