NHL: Atlanta 3, NY Yankees 2

Feb. 29, 2004 at 5:42 PM

ATLANTA, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Ilya Kovalchuk tallied twice to take over the NHL lead in goals and Patrik Stefan scored shorthanded as Atlanta edged the New York Rangers Sunday, 3-2.

Kovalchuk opened the scoring 5:09 into the game and made it 3-1 just 37 seconds into the third period, giving him 35 goals, two more than fellow All-Star Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Stefan gave Atlanta the lead for good, 2-1, with 90 seconds left in the second, capitalizing on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Shawn McEachern.

The Thrashers' penalty-killing was the key. They were perfect in seven shorthanded situations -- five in the second period.

Pasi Nurminen made 28 saves for Atlanta, which improved to 5

1-1 in its last seven meetings with the Rangers.

Mark Messier set up both goals for New York, which has won just five of its last 20 games overall (5-14

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