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New York at Atlanta

White converts shootout to complete Atlanta's rally from 3-goal deficit

CBSSports.com wire reports
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ATLANTA -- Even with so much on the line for the New York Rangers, Ilya Kovalchuk would not let the Atlanta Thrashers lose.

The Thrashers, who are now playing only for pride, rallied from a three-goal deficit behind Kovalchuk. Todd White then scored the only goal in the shootout to give Atlanta a 5-4 win over the Rangers on Thursday.

The Rangers led 4-1 late in the second period.

"Where is our killer instinct when we're playing someone lower in the standings?" asked Rangers backup Steve Valiquette, who stopped shootout shots by Bryan Little, Slava Kozlov, Kovalchuk, Eric Perrin and Rich Peverley before White flipped the puck past his glove.

After the Rangers built the big lead, Kovalchuk had a hand in each of the next three goals.

Kovalchuk scored late in the second period and assisted on third-period goals by Colby Armstrong and White as Atlanta tied it with 6:50 remaining in regulation.

The Rangers are one point behind sixth-place Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New York will travel to face the Penguins on Saturday.

"We have to stay up, of course, because we have a big game coming up in a couple of days," Valiquette said. "Nobody wants to get too down and too negative, but tonight wasn't exactly a forward performance for us."

The Thrashers, already eliminated from playoff contention, have won eight of 11.

"We need to play for our fans right now," Kovalchuk said. "We want to be better and make sure the fans have a good time."

Atlanta improved to 7-1 in shootouts.

"To hang in there and hang in there and hang around and not quit in the third ... we haven't got a lot to play for, but I think we owe our fans and even ourselves a solid effort no matter what happens," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "And that's what happened. We went out and played as hard as we could and got a couple of goals."

Johan Hedberg, who replaced injured starter Kari Lehtonen earlier in the game, denied Markus Naslund, Nik Antropov, Chris Drury, Ryan Callahan, Fredrik Sjostrom and Scott Gomez in the tiebreaker.

"I think we are fortunate enough to get a point, and we were very fortunate to get that," Rangers coach John Tortorella said.

Kovalchuk, chosen as Thrashers captain this season, scored with 20.6 seconds remaining in the second period to start the comeback.

"To give one up on the road with under a minute left in the period is a killer," said Rangers captain Chris Drury, who had a goal and two assists. "That's not why we lost, but it certainly changed things in their locker room going into the third."

The Rangers appeared on their way to a win when they took advantage of long-awaited success on the power play and grabbed the lead in the second period.

New York, 29th in the NHL with a 14.1 percent power-play success rate, broke a 1-1 tie with man-advantage goals by Antropov and Drury within a span of 1:30 midway through the period. Naslund added another second-period goal for the 4-1 lead.

Drury's shot from the right wing came on Valiquette's first career assist. Drury added two assists, and Nikolai Zherdev also scored for the Rangers.

Valiquette stopped 26 shots, but couldn't hold the big lead. Kozlov tied it 1-1 for the Thrashers early in the second period.

Lehtonen sustained an undisclosed upper body injury and left after the first period. Hedberg made 14 saves before his perfect shootout performance.

"It's been a rough year for us, but later in this season things have been going in the right direction," Hedberg said. "Going into next year, we want to have some momentum."

Drury had a first-period goal disallowed following a long video review that determined that his stick was above the crossbar when he knocked the puck past Lehtonen.

Notes

  • New York managed only four shots in the third period.
  • Atlanta C Jim Slater returned after missing five games due to head and shoulder injuries sustained March 14 at Buffalo.
  • The Rangers have seven games left, all against playoff-bound teams.
  • Lehtonen stopped nine of 10 shots.
  • Kovalchuk, awarded assists on goals by Armstrong and White, has nine goals and 13 assists in 12 games.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Johan Hedberg gets the job done with a perfect shootout after replacing an injured Kari Lehtonen. (AP)
Johan Hedberg gets the job done with a perfect shootout after replacing an injured Kari Lehtonen. (AP)
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Scoreboard
NY Rangers (39-27-9)13000 (0)4
Atlanta  (31-38-6) «02201 (1)5
Three Stars
T. White
ATL


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
I. Kovalchuk
ATL


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2
C. Drury
NYR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
18:34Nikolai Zherdev (23), Wrist Shot. Assist: Dubinsky, Sjostrom
2ND PERIOD
06:28Slava Kozlov (23), Wrist Shot. Assist: Peverley, Enstrom
11:04Power Play - Nik Antropov (26), Tip-In. Assist: Drury, Morris
12:29Power Play - Chris Drury (19), Slap Shot. Assist: Valiquette
17:59Markus Naslund (23), Tip-In. Assist: Drury, Morris
19:39Ilya Kovalchuk (39), Wrap Shot. Assist: White, Salmela
3RD PERIOD
03:30Colby Armstrong (18), Wrap Shot. Assist: Kovalchuk, Salmela
13:10Todd White (21), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kovalchuk, Armstrong
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
 Todd White (1), GOAL
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
02:19Mara, 2 min, High-Sticking
02:50Little, 2 min, Tripping
03:46Kovalchuk, 2 min, Interference
04:02Hainsey, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
04:25Naslund, 2 min, Bench - Too Many Men on the Ice
15:00Avery, 2 min, Goaltender Interference
2ND PERIOD
01:06Perrin, 2 min, Hooking
02:00Callahan, 2 min, Tripping
06:52Oystrick, 2 min, Interference
08:28Reasoner, 4 min, High-Sticking
09:18Naslund, 2 min, Slashing
10:38Kozlov, 2 min, Roughing
18:40Dubinsky, 2 min, Roughing
18:40Exelby, 2 min, Roughing
3RD PERIOD
04:05Kovalchuk, 2 min, High-Sticking
05:20Slater, 2 min, High-Sticking
OT
None
SHOOTOUT
None
Shots On Goal
 123T
New York1010424
Atlanta147728
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGASO SSO GA
Steve Valiquette 64:5726461
Johan Hedberg45:0014360
Kari Lehtonen20:009100
Game Information
Attendance - 13157
Referees - Chris Rooney, Kevin Pollock
Linesmen - Shane Heyer, Andy McElman
 
Other Games
LA 1 Final
Dal 0
Edm 2 Final
Pho 3
Van 2 Final
StL 4
TB 2 Final
OT
Mon 3
Cal 0 Final
Colu 5
Fla 4 Final
Phi 2
SJ 2 Final
Nash 3