Rangers 4, Thrashers 1
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mike Richter made 30 saves in his return from a back injury and Theo Fleury scored two goals to give the New York Rangers a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Sunday night.
Richter, who missed five games with a disc problem, was at his busiest in the second period when he stopped all 15 Atlanta shots while the Rangers scored twice on eight shots to take a 3-0 lead.
The Rangers not only got their top goalie back in top form, but had their veteran players performing well with Fleury scoring twice, Petr Nedved and Kevin Hatcher once apiece, and Adam Graves contributing two assists.
Darryl Shannon scored the only goal off Richter, in the first minute of the third period. But Richter quickly made up for that with a spectacular blocker stop on Andrew Brunette’s point-blank shot while falling down.
The victory was the Rangers’ fourth in five games, following a tie and two losses. The Thrashers fell to 1-3-2 in their first season.
Fleury gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead when he scored from in front at 1:08 of the first period after taking a pass from Mike York behind the goal line. Graves tied up two Atlanta players behind the net, effectively giving the Rangers a man advantage.
New York went ahead 2-0 at 9:40 of the second when Nedved’s shot from the left point deflected into the net off the stick of Thrashers forward Denny Lambert, who was in the low slot. Fleury made it 3-0 at 13:21 when he beat Norm Maracle in front after taking a pass from Graves on the right side and outracing the defense.
The Thrashers ended Richter’s shutout bid when Shannon scored from between the circles 23 seconds into the third. Hatcher completed the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute, his first for the Rangers.
Along with Richter, forward Valeri Kamensky returned to the Rangers lineup after missing six games with a fracture in his right arm. He was held scoreless.