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Hossa goal gives Thrashers another (SO) overtime win

ATLANTA (AP) -- Marian Hossa missed his chances during
regulation, then came through in the shootout.

Hossa scored the clinching goal in Atlanta's 3-2 victory over
the New York Rangers on Wednesday night, the third straight win for
the Thrashers in either a shootout or overtime.

Atlanta won for the seventh time in nine games to close within
one point of the Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern
Conference. The Rangers have lost three straight since a seven-game
winning streak.

"It's not pretty, but we got the points," Hossa said.

Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-leading 43rd goal for the Rangers,
but he was caught with an illegal stick in the overtime and
couldn't take part in the shootout when the referees ruled that his
backup stick didn't conform to the rules, either.

Still, the Rangers had a chance to win after scoring on their
first two tries against Atlanta goalie Kari Lehtonen. Martin
Rucinsky failed to get off a shot with New York leading 2-1, and
Slava Kozlov tied it up for the Thrashers on a shot that caught the
top of the net.

Martin Straka went next for the Rangers, firing the puck off
Lehtonen's right arm. Then it was Hossa's turn. The high-scoring
forward beat Henrik Lundqvist with a blistering shot over the
goalie's left pad.

"It's a great feeling when people are shouting your name,"
Hossa said. "It gives you that extra boost, and I just tried to
make it happen."

Lundqvist slammed his stick in disgust, while Hossa was mobbed
by his teammates in front of the penalty box. The Thrashers also
beat Florida in a shootout on Monday, following an overtime victory
over Washington last weekend.

"It's been crazy for the past few games," Lehtonen said. "All
of our fans, they've been in the games, so it's just an amazing
feeling. And we got two points -- that's the most important thing."

Marc Savard also scored for the Thrashers in the shootout, while
Michael Nylander and Petr Sykora converted for New York.

"There were some pretty good goals," Lundqvist said, "but I
still made it too easy for them."

Hossa had it tough before the shootout.

First, he was thwarted by Lundqvist on a breakaway. Then, Hossa
beat the goalie with a low shot, only to have it clang off the
inside of the post. The fog horn signaling an Atlanta goal went
off, but the puck wound up under Lundqvist. For good measure, Hossa
fired a shot over the net with just seconds to go in the third
period.

At least he got another chance. Jagr didn't have an opportunity,
sidelined by the curve of his stick.

"It was not illegal," Jagr insisted. "I know they're going to
measure. Why would I go out with an illegal stick? It depends on
how you measure it. You have to measure from the bottom of the
stick. If (the referee) doesn't do it, what are you going to do?"

Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk picked up his 40th goal just 1:13 into
the game. He tried to flip the puck in front of the net, but it
bounced off Michal Rozsival and came right back to the Atlanta
star. Kovalchuk tried the same tactic again from a bad angle and
wound up with a goal when the puck appeared to deflect off Rozsival
and sail past a surprised Lundqvist.

The Rangers tied it up only five seconds after going on a two-man
power play. Steve Rucchin won a faceoff to Jagr, who passed to
Rucinsky and then got the puck right back for a low shot that beat
Lehtonen on the glove side.

After spending much of the second period on the power play, the
Thrashers finally scored at even strength, thanks to pure hustle
from their blue-collar line of Serge Aubin, Brad Larsen and Eric
Boulton.

The trio managed to keep the puck in the Rangers' zone, even
after Aubin was struck by a shot from his own team while sprawled
in front of the net. Aubin got up, took a pass from Larsen and beat
Lundqvist between the legs.

But New York tied it up again before the period was done. With
only 6.8 seconds remaining, Thomas Pock scored his first goal of
the season on a shot from just inside the blue line. Lehtonen
appeared to be screened by towering Thrashers defenseman Andy
Sutton.

Game notes
New York's Jason Ward got a penalty shot in the first
period, but the puck slid off his stick when he tried to deke
Lehtonen. ... Atlanta D Garnet Exelby was sent flying early in the
third period by a vicious hit from New York's Ryan Hollweg, who
appeared to swing his elbow at Exelby's jaw. No penalty was called.
... The Thrashers, who came into the game leading the league with
81 power-play goals, went 0-for-9 with the man advantage.