Thrashers 4, Devils 0 (F)
Zach Parise, who was named Thursday to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, tips a shot on Lehtonen.
Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for his 12th career shutout, and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist in the Devils' 4-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers Thursday at Prudential Center.
The Thrashers struck three times in the second period and added another goal in the third for their first regulation win in the last eight games. The Devils failed to score on a four-minute power play in the final frame and became the first team to be blanked by Atlanta this season.
"I feel bad for anyone who had to come to watch that," said head coach Brent Sutter, whose team was shutout for the third time in its last nine games.
Lehtonen took the loss in the Devils' 1-0 win over Atlanta on Oct. 16, but got better support Thursday on goals by Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater and Marty Reasoner.
Scott Clemmensen started his 13th straight game and was relieved by Kevin Weekes to start the third period after allowing three goals on 19 shots. Weekes gave up Reasoner's goal on the first shot he saw, then settled down and finished with four saves in his first action since Dec. 13.
The Devils (23-14-3) entered the game having averaged nearly three goals a game this season, while the Thrashers had allowed a league-high 3.63 goals per game. The New Jersey power play, which had gone 3-for-7 over its previous two contests, finished 0-for-7.
"It may be the best thing for us," Sutter said of the Devils' 10-day, six-game road trip that begins Saturday in Los Angeles. New Jersey returns to host Montreal on Jan. 21.
"I trust this group, I've said this before," Sutter said. "We've had a bump in the road here that we're going to deal with."
The game was scoreless after an opening period in which the Devils were outshot, 9-6.
's breakaway 5:58 into the game was one of the best scoring chances of the period. Rolston outmuscled a Thrashers defender at the Atlanta blueline and raced in for a forehand deke that Lehtonen stopped with his right pad.
and Chris Thorburn dropped gloves for an even tilt at 11:28 of the first.
Armstrong caught a lucky bounce to put Atlanta ahead in the second period. Clemmensen misplayed Armstrong's backhand centering feed, and knocked it over the goal line at 3:03 as he reached back to trap the puck with his right arm.
"I knew I saved it but I wasn't sure where it was," Clemmensen said. "I knew it wasn't in front of me, and I didn't want to knock it into my own net, but that's eventually what happened anyway. I just didn't know where the puck was, but I knew it was behind me somewhere."
Kovalchuk's 15th of the season, fifth on the power play, put the Thrashers ahead by a pair. With Clarkson off for roughing, Slava Kozlov fed cross-ice from the right circle for Kovalchuk's one-timer blast from the top of the left circle at 5:31.
An Atlanta 2-on-1 led to Slater's fourth of the year. He carried Thorburn's pass in alone on Clemmensen and deked on his forehand for a 3-0 lead at 14:00 of the second.
Reasoner snapped his seventh of the season over Weekes' glove side from the top of the right circle to round out the scoring 2:09 into the third period.
The effects of Mike Rupp's takedown in a second-period fight with Eric Boulton carried 2:51 into the third, when the two came together again behind the Atlanta net. Boulton tried goading Rupp into another scrap, but wound up taking a double-minor instead.
Rupp's discipline produced a four-minute power play for the Devils, who were already trailing by four.
"At that point in the game, you're hoping he gets a major and then who's to say you can't score some goals," Rupp said. "Once he started punching me, he was just hitting me in the back of the helmet. I'm thinking, 'He's obviously upset so let me just take this and hopefully we can pop some goals in.'"
Rupp said Boulton claimed he took an elbow from Rupp at the end of the first fight. They fought again at 7:03 of the third, and Boulton was slapped with a 10-minute misconduct.
said he felt fine in his first game back after missing the previous five with an upper body injury. "Two points would have made me feel better tonight," White said. "Nothing feels good after a loss." ... Jay Leach was scratched from Thursday's lineup.
|Three star selections