NEW YORK – Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves to win for the second straight game and the New York Rangers blistered Atlanta rookie Adam Berkhoel for three second-period goals in a 5-1 victory over the Thrashers.

Lundqvist, subbing for injured regular Kevin Weekes, only allowed Ilya Kovalchuk’s first goal of the season and earned his second NHL victory. He beat New Jersey 4-1 on Thursday, drew several standing ovations in the third period, and heard his name chanted as he frustrated the Thrashers.

Martin Rucinsky gave New York an early lead, and Jed Ortmeyer, Steve Rucchin and Michael Nylander widened it in the second period for the surprising Rangers, who have earned points in all but one of their first six games (3-1-2).

Ville Nieminen made it 5-1 with 7:53 left.

Marcel Hossa had his first two assists of the season while playing against his brother, Marian, an All-Star forward who had an assist for Atlanta.

For the second straight night, the Thrashers had a goalie making his first NHL start. This one didn’t go much better than the home wipeout against Toronto.

Atlanta is trying to get by without top goalies, Kari Lehtonen and Mike Dunham, both on the injured list because of groin injuries. Michael Garnett allowed all nine goals on 34 shots in the 9-1, fight-filled loss Friday.

Berkhoel, just two seasons removed from the University of Denver, gave up Rucinsky’s fourth goal of the season with 9:28 left in the first period. He made nine saves in the frame and appeared comfortable.

That changed during a second-period flurry when Ortmeyer, Rucchin and Nylander all scored their first goals of the season within a span of 4:13.

Ortmeyer deflected a shot by Nylander into Berkhoel and then poked in the rebound to make it 2-0 at 12:31 as the Rangers were on a delayed penalty.

Just 35 seconds later, Rucchin fired a shot that was blocked by former Rangers defenseman Greg de Vries. The puck came back to Rucchin and he got his second attempt through to stretch the lead to three goals.

Nylander gave the Rangers a 4-0 advantage by ripping in a long slap shot during a power play with 3:16 left in the second period, during which New York scored three times on nine shots. Berkhoel finished with 24 saves.

It’s understandable that the Thrashers are having trouble keeping pucks out of their net, but it’s puzzling how inept their offense has been.

Atlanta (2-4) scored 15 goals in back-to-back victories over Washington but only mustered two in losses to Florida, Montreal, Toronto and the Rangers. The Thrashers’ power play clicked eight times in 23 chances against the Capitals, yet the unit is 0-for-28 against everyone else.

They are still waiting for a boost from Kovalchuk, who tied for the NHL lead with 41 goals during the 2003-04 season. In three games since signing a new contract and rejoining the team, he has one goal and Atlanta is 0-3 with two goals scored and 16 against.

He spoiled Lundqvist’s shutout bid with 10:53 left by shooting a puck in off the skate of defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

Notes: Dunham – formerly of the Rangers – was placed on the injured list before the game, retroactive to Oct. 12. The Thrashers recalled D Mark Popovic from Chicago of the AHL. … Atlanta D Andy Sutton was suspended for four games by the NHL one day after his match penalty against Toronto’s Darcy Tucker. … Weekes missed his second straight game with an injured groin.

AP-ES-10-15-05 2132EDT


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