Pasi Nurminen stopped 29 shots for the 5-year-old Thrashers,
unbeaten after four games this season following a 0-0 tie with the
Rangers on Thursday night.
Mike Dunham made 30 saves for New York.
Not only is Atlanta's 2-0-2 start the best in franchise history,
but the four-game unbeaten streak matches the Thrashers' best run
at any point.
"We're a young team playing well on both sides of the puck,"
Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We're way down on our goals
against. That's our top priority."
The Thrashers have yielded only six goals this season, after
allowing an NHL-worst 284 last season. Defense is especially
important now without top scorer Dany Heatley, sidelined
indefinitely with a knee injury.
It was the first scoreless tie in Thrashers history.
New York (0-2-1) became the last team in the Eastern Conference
to earn a point in the standings. But the Rangers, out of the
playoffs since 1997, haven't scored in 157 minutes, 13 seconds.
Petr Nedved nearly ended it quickly in overtime when he got off
a clean shot just 23 seconds in for the Rangers, who held a 6-3
shot advantage in the extra session.
"We just have to work hard and I'm sure the goals will come,"
Nedved said. "I think it's frustrating for everybody right now."
Dunham was especially sharp from the middle of the second period
on in, earning his 17th NHL shutout.
"It's tough when it's 0-0, there is no cushion there," he
With just under seven minutes left in the second, Dunham made
consecutive pad stops during a power play. Then he gloved a hard
shot from the left point from Ilya Kovalchuk. The fast forward has
been given time at the point during power plays, filling Heatley's
role as the unit's quarterback.
Kovalchuk nearly beat Dunham during Atlanta's two-man advantage
in the third period that lasted a full two minutes -- compounded by
Valdimir Malakhov's double minor for high-sticking.
Kovalchuk came into the left circle and sent a hard wrister on
net that Dunham pinned between his glove and pad.
"Neither team wanted to give up the first goal and neither team
wanted to open it up, especially our team, which played so bad in
the previous games," Nedved said.
New York's penalty-killing unit was perfect in nine short-handed
situations against Atlanta after giving up three goals in 13
chances to open the season.
Nurminen, who has played all four games this season, stood tall
during New York's first power play of the third period. Boris
Mironov fired a shot from the blue line that Nurminen got a pad on.
The rebound came right to Eric Lindros at the doorstop but his
rebound try was also denied by Nurminen's pad.
"Pasi has been playing unbelievable," Hartley said. "He is
giving us a chance to win and he is keeping us in games with big
Heatley, the MVP of last season's All-Star game, is recovering
from injuries sustained when he crashed his Ferrari just before the
season. Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder, fatally injured in the
accident, was remembered during a pregame moment of silence.
The Rangers opened the season by losing to recent expansion
teams Minnesota and Columbus by a combined score of 10-3.
"It doesn't really erase last weekend," captain Mark Messier
said of the tie. "We should learn from these games and not forget
Atlanta has given the Rangers trouble in recent years, going
5-0-1 in the last six meetings. The Thrashers went 4-0 against New
York last season, scoring at least four goals in each.
The Rangers did show life in their first 20 minutes at home in
front of an arena that was three-quarters full with fans loaded
Only a handful of players received cheers during introductions,
while most -- especially Lindros -- were greeted with different
levels of boos.
The remainder of Game 7 of the AL championship series was
shown on the center-ice scoreboard following the game. ... Former
Rangers coaches Roger Neilson and Herb Brooks as well as former
Rangers player Roman Lyashenko, who all died during the offseason,
were also honored before the game. ... Both of Nurminen's previous
NHL shutouts were 1-0 victories. ... It was the first time since
Oct. 8, 1987 that Rangers D Brian Leetch and G Mike Richter missed
the home opener. Leetch is out with an ankle injury. Richter, who
retired during the summer, dropped the ceremonial first puck.