Lehtonen, Thrashers edge Rangers in shootout

NEW YORK (Ticker) — After a deflating final minute, Kari
Lehtonen and the Atlanta Thrashers needed a break to regroup.
They had two and spoiled a big night for the New York Rangers.

Lehtonen made 39 saves before making a pair of critical stops in
the shootout as the Thrashers snapped a four-game losing streak
with a 2-1 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday.

Bryan Little and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored in the bonus format
and Joseph Motzko netted his first goal of the campaign for the
Thrashers, who improved to 3-0 in shootouts this season.

“Of course you’re not happy when they tie the game,” Atlanta
defenseman Niclas Havelid said. “But you still have chances to
score on the 4-on-4 and we’re good in shootouts – and we took
advantage of it.”

Markus Naslund tied the contest with 11 seconds left in
regulation and tallied in the bonus format and Henrik Lundqvist
stopped 21 shots for the Rangers, who lost their third straight
game after honoring Adam Graves with a 60-minute ceremony to
retire his No. 9 jersey.

“It would have been tough to lose this one, 1-0, again,”
Lundqvist said. “But we came up big in the last minute. It’s a
big point for us, but we definitely needed two points tonight.
It’s pretty disappointing.”

Naslund opened the shootout by deking Lehtonen and tucking in a
backhand, but Little answered on his attempt in the first round
with a wrist shot that bounced off the goalpost before going in.

“I kind of had in my mind the whole time I was going to shoot
there,” Little said. “I tried deking in my last shootout and I
missed. I decided before (the shootout) I was going to shoot
low glove and it worked out.”

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After Lehtonen denied Nikolai Zherdev’s attempt in the next
frame, Kozlov beat Lundqvist with a snap shot to the stick side.
Lehtonen then stopped Fredrik Sjostrom to secure the win for

“We haven’t won here in a long time,” Lehtonen said. “But then
it was a good couple of minute break after the third period and
the overtime. That was kind of time for me to regroup and then
go at it again.”

Motzko had snapped a scoreless tie at 6:26 of the third period,
accepting a centering pass from Marty Reasoner and firing a
one-timer past Lundqvist.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the Thrashers with 21 goals this
season, squandered a golden opportunity to seal the victory,
shooting wide on an empty net with less than a minute to go.

“I think Kovy would like to have that one that back,” Little
said. “But we’re happy, we have the two points – shootout or

“It’s been a struggle all year,” Atlanta coach John Anderson
said. “Certainly when you come into New York on a pretty
electric night with the Adam Graves thing, it’s going to be a
tough game for us. So I’m glad we came up big.”

The Rangers capitalized on that mistake and picked up a crucial
point as Naslund unleashed a wrist shot from the slot past
Lehtonen with 10.7 ticks remaining to tie the game at 1-1.

Naslund’s goal snapped New York’s scoreless streak at 125
minutes, 54 seconds.

“I can’t just pinpoint one thing,” Naslund said of the scoring
slump. “The way to get out of this is to simplify it and just
drive to the net and get rebounds.”