Sean Avery ricocheted a fluke goal off the boards from centre ice and Brendan Shanahan scored the winner with 4:01 remaining Saturday, lifting the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers and a commanding two-nothing lead in the best-of-seven playoff series.
Shanahan's 54th career playoff goal came after Ilya Kovalchuk tied the game at one for the Thrashers with 14:25 remaining. From the blue line, Fedor Tyutin fired a shot that was blocked in front by Atlanta defenceman Greg de Vries.
But the puck deflected to Avery in the faceoff circle, and he spotted Shanahan alone in front. The 38-year-old veteran didn't miss, flipping a shot past a diving Johan Hedberg to give the Rangers their second straight one-goal win in Atlanta.
The series now moves to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Tuesday night. The next two games are in New York, giving the Rangers a chance to clinch the series without coming back to Atlanta.
Things got ugly at the end. Kovalchuk took a run at Avery with 3.4 seconds left and drew a penalty. Another tussle nearly broke out at the horn, but the officials broke it up and the Rangers descended on goalie Henrik Lundqvist to celebrate.
New York opened the series with a 4-3 win - the Rangers' first post-season victory since 1997. They waited only two days to pick up another.