ATLANTA (AP) _ Scott Clemmensen made the most of a rare start Friday night, stopping 18 shots for his second road shutout in the New Jersey Devils' 5-0 victory over Atlanta.
Playing time is scarce for any goalie behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, who this week reached 400 wins faster than any player in NHL history. Clemmensen has made only four starts this season, and he already has three wins and two shutouts.
``It's obviously a testament to the type of goaltender he is,'' Devils right wing Brian Gionta said. ``Backup goalies don't play a lot here. To be that sharp says a lot.''
Clemmensen made only 10 saves in the first two periods. At times when the Thrashers could not even challenge the net, staying alert was Clemmensen's biggest challenge.
``I didn't see a lot of shots and I didn't see a lot of quality shots,'' Clemmensen said. ``Obviously, when you limit those two things, good things are going to happen for you. It's just having good players playing in front of you.''
The Stanley Cup champion Devils, 1-2-1 in their last four games, moved within a point of fifth-place Ottawa and four points ahead of seventh-place Montreal in the Eastern Conference.
Scott Gomez scored twice, and Patrik Elias, Paul Martin and Sergei Brylin added goals for New Jersey.
The Devils needed a lift following a 2-1 loss in Tampa Bay Thursday night, and Clemmensen delivered in only his fourth start.
On Tuesday night, Brodeur became just the eighth goalie to reach the 400-win mark, and he was rewarded with a night off against the Thrashers.
Clemmensen said he was told by coach Pat Burns after Thursday night's loss that he would start Friday night.
``When they call me I just want to play well,'' Clemmensen said. ``The shutout is a bonus.''
In his first NHL appearance on Jan. 20, Clemmensen had a 3-0 shutout in Pittsburgh. That was the Devils' last road shutout victory before Friday night.
Clemmensen was mostly a spectator in the second period, when the Thrashers had only three shots on goal. Atlanta's first shot on goal came with 6:40 left in the period.
``It was not one of our best games, that's for sure,'' said Thrashers coach Bob Hartley. ``From the first drop of the puck we basically never gave ourselves a chance to be in this game.''
The Thrashers were playing their first game since they were eliminated from the playoffs with the New York Islanders' win over Philadelphia Thursday night. The frustrations of Atlanta's players became evident late in the game, leading to Martin's five-on-three goal with 2:08 left to play.
The Thrashers drew 17 penalties, including two five-minute major penalties for fighting and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
``There were certainly frustrations, but still you have to be able to control your frustrations,'' Hartley said. ``You can't let frustration control you.''
The Devils had converted only four of their last 47 power-play opportunities entering the game. Against the Thrashers, they made good on four of 11 power-play tries, including two in the final 2:08 of the game.
Elias pushed his team-leading goals total to 36 on a power-play shot from the right circle 4:28 into the first period. The goal followed a two-minute tripping penalty against Atlanta's Andy Sutton.
The Devils didn't need a power-play chance to push the lead to 2-0 in the first period. Gomez scored on a deflected shot by Brian Gionta with 3:59 left in the period.
With only 36.4 seconds left in a fight-marred second period, Gomez beat goalie Pasi Nurminen to push the Devils' lead to 3-0.
Brylin limped off the ice in the final seconds after a shot with 10.8 seconds left to play deflected off his skate and past Nurminen for the Devils' final goal.
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