54° Good Afternoon
54° Good Afternoon

The Wrap: Thrashers 6, NYR 4, Anisimov, Rozsival hurt

                Henrik Lundqvist had started every game at the Garden since Oct. 22 of last year and had recorded back-to-back wins in Toronto and against New Jersey.But head coach John Tortorella decided to rest Lundqvist last night and give backup Martin Biron, acquired as a free agent this summer, the opportunity to beat the Thrashers in his second game as a Ranger.
               "Our plan with him (Biron) is trying to get him three or four starts each month," said Tortorella. "He played good in Toronto (26 saves in a 2-1 win) and if it wasn't Boston (the next day), where Hank has tremendous numbers, maybe we even go back with him. We have to get Biron back in...because he needs to play. Because we think it's going to benefit Hank, in the last month of the season. It all comes into play. He cannot be sitting as long as he was prior. "   
               The end result? Despite a desperate third-period rally, a dispiriting 6-4 loss to Atlanta, a defeat that snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blueshirts, who fell to 4-3-1.

                The veteran Biron, who allowed two stoppable goals over his left shoulder---was only partly at fault.  The defense went through lulls, allowing the trapping Thrashers to skate free on rushes, and Artem Anisimov, arguably the Rangers' top center, was not on the bench in the third period.
                But down 5-2 in the third, the Rangers stormed back. Veteran center Todd White, subbing for the injured Anisimov, scored his first as a Ranger, swiping in a rebound from the left post to cut the lead to 5-3 after Ryan Callahan stole a pass. The Rangers controlled the puck low and then at the left point, and Avery, who had scored on a wraparound to tie the game at 2, found Brian Boyle, for his third of the year, in front at 10:07.  And the building, which had been as silent as it’s been so far this season, was alive.
               Matt Gilroy’s slapper went off Mason’s glove and then the crossbar, and the Rangers lost another player as Michal Rozsival left the bench for the trainer's room.
                 Perhaps the Rangers felt too comfortable early. 
                 Callahan drove to the net and buried a behind-the-cage dish from Anisimov behind Chris Mason at the 38-second mark. The Rangers were controlling the play, leading 7-1 in shots, then hit a gully as the Thrashers settled in. Dustin Byfuglein's wrister caught iron and at 11:28, Bryan Little skated through several Rangers, including Marc Staal and Sean Avery in the neutral and d-zone and beat Biron with a backhander to tie the score. Steve Eminger hit a post at 12:45, but the Rangers were forced to scramble before the period ended with the Thrashers taking 11 of the the next 14 shots.  Brandon Dubinsky was sent off for tripping at 17:39, creating the first Thrashers power play, then Rozsival cleared the puck into the stands, putting the Blueshirts two men down for 51 seconds. But Callahan, Staal and Dan Girardi turned back the 5-on-3 with Biron strong amid traffic in front.

                In the second, Evander Kane put the Thrashers ahead by intercepting a pass from his linemate, rookie Alex Burmistrov, that was intended for a one-timer by Dustin Byfuglein. Instead, Kane darted in and scored at 10:17. Tortorella was animated during a timeout.
                 Tortorella said he called for the break not because of the goal, but because "we weren't playing hard enough, we weren't taking the body. We gathered ourselves but them we started making lateral passes in the neutral zone and they capitalized."  
                 Sean Avery, after a scrappy shift, scored his first of the year on a wraparound at 12:48. But Niklas Bergfors, acquired from the Devils in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade last year, restored the Thrashers lead at 16:07. Two quick goals in the third extended the edge to 5-2. 
                 "There were a couple of times tonight where I was in position and ready to make the save and that didn't happen," said Biron. "We have to get back at it and the next time you just have to make those big saves and then the game is a lot easier to win."
                Biron left the net with 1:15 left and Girardi slid to prevent an empty-net try, but Andrew Ladd took a bouncing puck of Michael DelZotto's stick and clinched it at 6-4.             
              "There were lackadasical parts of the game. We have to be ready to go the full 60," said Staal. "It was probably the worst I've played since I've been here."

              A post-game notebook, with more quotes/stats coming up....


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