With Some Luck, Rangers Grab a 2-0 Lead
ATLANTA, April 14 — Sean Avery ricocheted a fluke goal off the boards from center ice and Brendan Shanahan scored the winner with 4 minutes 1 second remaining Saturday, lifting the New York Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers and a commanding twogames-to-none lead in the best-ofseven series.
Shanahan’s 54th career playoff goal came after Ilya Kovalchuk tied the score at 1 for the Thrashers with 14:25 to go in the third period. From the blueline, Fedor Tyutin fired a shot that was blocked in front by Atlanta defenseman Greg de Vries.
But the puck deflected to Avery in the faceoff circle, and he spotted Shanahan alone in front. The veteran didn’t miss, flipping a shot past a diving Johan Hedberg to give the Rangers their second straight onegoal win in Atlanta.
“I was going to backdoor it to Marty,” Avery said of teammate Martin Straka. “But I stopped, turned around and saw Shanny standing in a good spot. He buried it.”
Things got ugly at the end. Kovalchuk took a run at Avery with 3.4 seconds left and drew a penalty. An- other tussle nearly broke out at the horn, but the officials broke it up.
“The more attention they give me, the less they’re giving to my teammates,” said Avery, one of the NHL’s most outspoken and penalized players. “And I play better, too.”
Atlanta made a switch in the nets after Kari Lehtonen gave up a shaky goal in his first playoff game. The Rangers scored the first two goals in that one and have yet to trail in the series.
Atlanta’s Johan Hedberg, left, and Alexei Zhitnik leave Petr Prucha floored.