With a playoff spot still out of reach, the two-time Stanley Cup
champion was only happy that they escaped Madison Square Garden
with a key two points in the standings.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the tying goal late in regulation and Marc
Savard netted the winner 2:45 into overtime on Atlanta's second
shot of the extra session, lifting the Thrashers to a 3-2 comeback
victory Sunday that sent the New York Rangers to their fifth
"It's a 60 or 65-minute game, so if you don't score the first
little while, hopefully you score at the end," said Holik, who
spent the previous two seasons with the Rangers. "We don't want to
be behind two goals every time. Sooner or later you're not going to
Atlanta improved to 5-2 since the Olympic break, earning its
fourth overtime victory in the span despite falling behind 2-0 in
the second period.
The Thrashers, two points behind eighth-place Tampa Bay in the
Eastern Conference playoff race, won for the fifth time this season
when trailing after two periods.
"I like what I see," forward Peter Bondra said. "We're
getting rewarded. We don't give up on the play and we show some
character at the same time but there is a long way for us to get to
where we want to be."
After failing on their first six power-play chances, Atlanta
took advantage of a 5-on-3 situation when Savard set up Kovalchuk's
42nd goal with 4:41 left in regulation.
Then with Martin Straka serving a stick-holding penalty in
overtime, Kovalchuk returned the favor and assisted on Savard's
25th goal -- a rising shot from the right circle that found the top
corner behind Henrik Lundqvist.
"He's a player that can change momentum," Bondra said of
Kovalchuk. "It's nice to see that our elite players succeed and
help us win a game."
That is something the Rangers have experienced just once in six
games since the Olympic break.
New York, which lost 1-0 at Montreal on Saturday night, has
scored just six goals in its longest skid of the season. The
Rangers have earned two points during the slide, both in overtime
losses this week to the Thrashers.
Kovalchuk's goal came as the Rangers were down two men, the
second penalty was a delay-of-game call against Darius Kasparaitis.
"I thought we were going to win," said Jaromir Jagr, whose
NHL-leading 44th goal gave New York a 2-0 edge. "Some calls were
tough against us, some calls were fair. We had a 2-0 lead, we
should have been able to win the hockey game."
Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves, including 16 in a busy second
Lundqvist stopped 28 shots but still hasn't won in four starts
since leading Sweden to the Olympic gold medal two weeks earlier.
The first-place Rangers are trying to find their offense as
Philadelphia closes in on the Atlantic Division lead.
"It's not good for us and it's not going to get better until we
win," Jagr said. "I'm hoping it's not too late to stop it. I
thought we had a big chance today and we didn't do it."
Straka gave New York a 1-0 lead 5:39 into the second period.
Lundqvist, in his fourth straight start following a two-game
layoff after the Turin Games, made 10 saves in the first period
when New York killed off Atlanta's three power plays, and faced
only three in the second.
Lehtonen started off shaky and fought off many shots -- including
some that came from long range -- and got stronger the rest of the
It was only the second time in five games the Rangers managed
more than one goal, and both came against the Thrashers.
Rangers rookie Petr Prucha and Sandis Ozolinsh assisted on
Jagr's goal. Prucha missed the previous eight games with a knee
injury. Ozolinsh -- acquired Thursday from Anaheim -- earned his
first point with New York. ... New York LW Martin Rucinsky was
knocked out by a left knee injury in the third period. ... Rangers
D Marek Malik sat out for the sixth straight game with a shoulder
injury. ... Petr Sykora's assist on Straka's goal was his 500th NHL
point. ... Atlanta RW Marian Hossa didn't get a chance to play
against brother Marcel, who was scratched from the Rangers' lineup.
... Injured Atlanta D Garnet Exelby missed a second consecutive
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Madison Square Garden Location: New York, New York
Referees: Marc Joannette, Brad Meier Linesmen: Thor Nelson, Tim Nowak
Attendance: 18,200 (101.1% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
No scoring this period
Martin Straka (12)
Assists: Steve Rucchin, Petr Sykora
Jaromir Jagr (44)
(Power Play) Assists: Petr Prucha, Sandis Ozolinsh
Ronald Petrovicky (8)
Assist: Bobby Holik
Ilya Kovalchuk (42)
(Power Play) Assists: Marc Savard, Niclas Havelid
Marc Savard (25)
(Power Play) Assist: Ilya Kovalchuk