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Atlanta Thrashers (30-28-6) at New York Rangers (36-18-9)
Sunday, 5 p.m. ET

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
The New York Rangers look to snap a season-high four-game losing streak when they host the Atlanta Thrashers at Madison Square Garden.

New York won the first two meetings between the teams this season before a 3-2 shootout loss at Atlanta on Wednesday.

The Rangers, who haven't lost five consecutive games since an eight-game skid from March 12-25, 2004, have scored just four goals in their last four contests.

Rookie Henrik Lundqvist was on the losing end of a goaltenders' duel in New York's 1-0 loss to Montreal on Saturday.

Lundqvist allowed a first-period goal to Craig Rivet and finished with 23 saves, but Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet stopped all 26 shots to record his second consecutive shutout and fifth this season in just 21 starts.

"The last four games we've played, the other team has scored the first goal, so they can play smart and we have to be really patient," Lundqvist said. "It's been hard for us to create some really good scoring chances."

Despite the loss, the Rangers maintained a one-point lead over Philadelphia. The Flyers dropped a 6-5 decision earlier in the day to Buffalo.

New York will play five of its next six games at home before ending the season with eight of 13 contests on the road. The Flyers finish up with 11 of their final 18 games away from home.

Jaromir Jagr, tied with San Jose's Joe Thornton for the league lead in points with 92, was held off the scoresheet for the third time in four games.

Jagr has 18 goals and 20 assists in 26 career games against the Thrashers.

Atlanta is 7-3-0 in its last 10 games to move within four points of Tampa Bay for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Thrashers are yet to make the postseason since entering the league in 1999-2000, but have increased their point total in each of the last three seasons. They finished with a franchise-best 78 points in 2002-03, good for 10th in the conference.

Ilya Kovalchuk tied a career high with his 41st goal of the season in the Thrashers' 3-1 loss to Ottawa on Friday.

Atlanta had won the first three games of its four-game homestand - each via shootout - but found itself in an early hole after goalie Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals in the first 5:02 of the game.

"There were a couple of turnovers, and they came pretty hard," Lehtonen said. "We were not patient enough. They put the puck deep, and I should have had two of those goals also. It's just hard to come back after that."

Kovalchuk's power-play goal gave him 21 with the man advantage this season, tying him with Jagr for the most in the league.

STANDINGS: Thrashers - 66 points, 3rd place, 26 PB, Southeast Division. Rangers - 81 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Thrashers - Kovalchuk, 41 goals and 79 points; Marc Savard, 54 assists; Andy Sutton, 110 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 43 goals and 92 points; Jagr and Martin Straka, 49 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 87 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 10): Thrashers - Power play: 19.2 percent (82 for 426), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (320 for 401), 25th. Rangers - Power play: 18.0 percent (62 for 345), 15th. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (321 for 375), 3rd.

GOALTENDERS: Thrashers - Lehtonen (13-11-0, 1 SO, 2.75 GAA); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79). Rangers - Lundqvist (25-9-7, 2, 2.05); Kevin Weekes (11-9-2, 2.85).

SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Wednesday; Thrashers, 3-2 (SO). At Atlanta, Marian Hossa scored in the eighth round of the shootout giving the Thrashers their seventh win in nine games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 13-16-2 on the road; Rangers - 19-7-5 at home.
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