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
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
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
"We need some big saves," Hartley said. "The teams that are
doing well in the standings are getting the big saves. You need
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."
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.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Philips Arena Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Referees: Rob Martell, Dan O'Halloran Linesmen: Tim Nowak, Pierre Racicot
Attendance: 16,079 (86.7% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Marian Hossa (10)
(Power Play) Assists: Scott Mellanby, Jaroslav Modry
Jason Ward (3)
Assists: Michael Nylander, Ville Nieminen
Petr Prucha (6)
Assists: Jaromir Jagr, Jason Strudwick
Michael Nylander (8)
Assist: Jason Ward
Marc Savard (7)
Assists: Garnet Exelby, Michael Garnett
Slava Kozlov (5)
(Power Play) Assists: Scott Mellanby, Ilya Kovalchuk
Jaromir Jagr (21)
Assists: Martin Straka, Petr Prucha
Blair Betts (4)
Assists: Marcel Hossa, Chad Wiseman
Jed Ortmeyer (3)
(Empty Net) Assists: Ville Nieminen, Michal Rozsival