for this game

Girardi snaps late tie as Rangers top Thrashers

Oct 31, 2008 - 3:33 AM By Larry Fleisher PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Nikolai Zherdev has made a smooth transition to his new team, and his latest clutch performance helped set a franchise record for the New York Rangers.

Zherdev scored a power-play goal and set up defenseman Dan Girardi's go-ahead tally with 6:27 remaining in the third period as the Rangers edged the Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Zherdev extended his modest points streak to four games, a run in which he has collected three goals and four assists. In this one, he scored New York's only power-play goal at 6:58 of the third before helping produce Girardi's second goal of the season.

"I don't know too much of his history, but I think he's pretty happy to be here, and I think it's showing up in his play," Rangers captain Chris Drury said of Zherdev. "He's pretty ready every day."

"You could see right away when he got here that he is one of the most talented players I've seen," New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist added. "When you're young, the thing you have to improve is your consistency to be that good every night. He's getting there. He's playing really well right now."

Markus Naslund also scored and Lundqvist made 27 saves for his league-leading eighth victory.

Vyacheslav Kozlov scored a first-period goal for the Thrashers and set up Bryan Little's power-play tally that forged a 2-2 tie midway through the third. Todd White notched two assists and Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves, but it was not enough as Atlanta dropped its fifth straight game (0-4-1).

The big performance by Zherdev in the final 20 minutes gave the Rangers their fourth consecutive win. They became the first team to reach 10 wins and surpass 20 points, while setting a franchise record for their best 13-game start.

Zherdev's big night began with White in the penalty box for interference. He stole the puck from Atlanta defenseman Tobias Enstrom along the left wing boards and, after beating two defenders, lifted a backhander from the doorstep over Lehtonen for his fifth goal of the season.

After Little tied the game, the Rangers needed another clutch play from Zherdev, who is tied with Brandon Dubinsky for the team lead with 12 points. They got it when fellow Russian Dmitri Kalinin began the winning sequence in his own zone by stripping Jason Williams of the puck.

The defenseman then dished to Zherdev, who raced up the ice and circled around the net. From the right end line, Zherdev shot the puck through the crease, and it went to Girardi, whose slap shot from along the left wing boards found its way past Lehtonen with 6:27 remaining.

"It was a lucky shot there," Girardi said. "It came out and I kind of read it like I knew he was going to throw it in front of the net. It was rolling and I took a whack at it. That was it."

"I tried to take them against the wall and separate them from the puck, and Tobi Enstrom came," Atlanta's Colby Armstrong said. "It was just a play that was a lucky bounce."

The two plays in this one continued Zherdev's recent run of impressive performances. In his return to Columbus last Friday, Zherdev had a goal and two assists, and he scored the tying goal with eight seconds remaining a night later against Pittsburgh.

Drafted fourth overall by Columbus in 2003, Zherdev scored 78 goals over four seasons with the Blue Jackets before being acquired by the Rangers in the offseason.

While New York has stormed to the top of the standings, it has not been an easy climb. It has played just one game decided by more than two goals but gone 6-1-1 in one-goal contests.

"We can't mistake what we've been doing here for being great," Rangers coach Tom Renney said. "The effort and the intentions are great. We've had moments of greatness in every game, but it's about sustaining that."

Including two playoff games, Atlanta has lost five in row in New York. The Thrashers, who were outscored, 17-3, in the previous four, were coming off an embarrassing 7-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

"At least we gave ourselves a chance to win tonight," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "The other night wasn't that way. We have to start finding ways to win. We don't want to find ourselves so far behind the eight ball that we can't climb out of the deep hole we're digging right now."

Atlanta's night started off decently as Kozlov converted White's pass from behind the net, beating Lundqvist with a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle.

Naslund tied it with a wrister from the left circle and almost gave the Rangers the lead just 30 seconds into the second, but officials ruled that he made a distinct kicking motion while putting the puck in the net.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 1 0 1 2
    NY RANGERS 1 0 2 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 4 (TODD WHITE) 4:41
    NYR - MARKUS NASLUND 4 (MARC STAAL, PAUL MARA) 12:25
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: NYR - (PP) NIKOLAI ZHERDEV 5 (BRANDON DUBINSKY, PAUL MARA)
    6:58
    ATL - (PP) BRYAN LITTLE 5 (TODD

    Oct 30 9:35 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    NY RANGERS 3 6:27 LEFT, 3RD PRD

    Thrashers 2, Rangers 3  3rd - 6:27Oct 30 9:22 PM
  • 10
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    RUWTbot Took away 39 roots (Close Finish)

    Thrashers 2, Rangers 3  3rd - 6:27Oct 30 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    NY RANGERS 2 9:32 LEFT, 3RD PRD

    Thrashers 2, Rangers 2  3rd - 9:32Oct 30 9:14 PM
  • 49
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    RUWTbot Added 44 roots (Close Finish)

    Thrashers 2, Rangers 2  3rd - 9:32Oct 30 9:14 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    NY RANGERS 2 13:02 LEFT, 3RD PRD

    Thrashers 1, Rangers 2  3rd - 13:02Oct 30 9:08 PM
  • 5
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    RUWTbot Took away 44 roots

    Thrashers 1, Rangers 2  3rd - 13:02Oct 30 9:08 PM
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    Thrashers 1, Rangers 1  End of 2ndOct 30 8:46 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 1 0 1
    NY RANGERS 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 4 (TODD WHITE) 4:41
    NYR - MARKUS NASLUND 4 (MARC STAAL, PAUL MARA) 12:25
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 8 6 14
    NYR

    Oct 30 8:37 PM
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    Thrashers 1, Rangers 1  2nd - 7:39Oct 30 8:24 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 1 1
    NY RANGERS 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: ATL - VYACHESLAV KOZLOV 4 (TODD WHITE) 4:41
    NYR - MARKUS NASLUND 4 (MARC STAAL, PAUL MARA) 12:25
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 8 8
    NYR 10

    Oct 30 7:46 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    NY RANGERS 1 7:35 LEFT, 1ST PRD

    Thrashers 1, Rangers 1  1st - 7:35Oct 30 7:33 PM


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    ATLANTA 1
    NY RANGERS 0 15:02 LEFT, 1ST PRD

    Thrashers 1, Rangers 0  1st - 15:02Oct 30 7:19 PM