Devils 5, Thrashers 1
Weekes makes one of his 31 saves Friday in Atlanta, denying Joe Motzko.
The Devils stormed the last-place Thrashers with three goals in the first period and never looked back in a 5-1 romp Friday at Atlanta's Philips Arena.
had a goal and an assist to reach the 30-goal plateau for the third straight season, and Kevin Weekes made 31 saves to pick up a win in his first start since Jan. 16.
Parise, fourth on the league's goal list, becomes the first player in club history to record three consecutive seasons of 30-or-more goals within the first four seasons of his NHL career. He's currently riding an eight-game points streak (5g-6a).
John Madden had a goal and an assist, including his franchise-record 17th career shorthanded tally. Brian Gionta also scored on the penalty kill for the Devils, whose 10 shorthanded goals this season are second only to Philadelphia (13).
New Jersey (33-16-3) went 3-1 against Atlanta to take the season series.
netted his 16th of the season and has recorded at least a point in nine of his last 10 games (5g-8a). The third-year centerman has points in six straight and needs one goal to match the career high he set in his rookie campaign.
continued cruising toward another Devils record by registering two assists. With 687 career points, Elias needs just 14 to match John MacLean for the club's all-time mark.
Weekes (5-4-0) extended his personal winning streak to three games and has limited opponents to one goal in each of those outings. Eighteen of his saves Friday came in the third period.
The Devils got back on track after their eight-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday against Washington. New Jersey improved to 10-2-0 in its last 12 games and took a six-point over the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division after New York was walloped 10-2 in Dallas.
Jersey's Team will be back in action Saturday night to open a season-high five-game homestand with a matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.
Friday's game was a measure of revenge for the Devils, who lost 4-0 in their last meeting with Atlanta back on Jan. 8. Head coach Brent Sutter said it was one of the team's worst efforts during his Devils tenure.
He was far more pleased with what he saw Friday.
"We came in with the mindset that we wanted to play as a group," Sutter said. "We accomplished that."
Sutter's squad looked like the one that ascended to second place in the Eastern Conference earlier this week before ceding ground back to the Capitals in Tuesday's 5-2 loss.
Zajac got the scoring started in the first period, tapping in Jamie Langenbrunner
's shot at the top of the crease to make it 1-0 at 4:34. New Jersey outshot Atlanta by an 18-4 count in the opening frame.
With Mike Rupp serving two minutes for goaltender interference, Madden struck for a 2-0 lead on his sixth of the season, and first shorthanded. Madden's snapshot from outside the right circle beat Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen top-shelf at 10:11 and ended a seven-game goal drought.
Just 1:42 later, David Clarkson
blew the game open at 3-0 with his 11th of the season, and first point in six games. Clarkson's centering attempt for Brian Rolston
from the right boards caromed off the left skate of Atlanta's Eric Perrin and into the net at 11:42.
Having fallen behind 2-0 in the first period of each of their last two contests, the Devils carried a three-goal cushion into the middle frame against the Thrashers.
Atlanta finally got on the board when Rich Peverley's feed from behind the Devils' cage set up Colby Armstrong's 14th two minutes into the second.
Parise's ninth power-play tally came off a perfectly-coordinated criss-cross with Elias at the right circle. Elias swung the puck back to Parise for a one-timer past Lehtonen's catching glove for a 4-1 score at 3:49.
The Devils' power play connected for a fourth straight game and has converted on four of its last 17 opportunities. New Jersey's PK, 7-for-7 against Atlanta, has produced shorthanded goals in two straight games, and five of its last eight contests.
The Devils were killing off Paul Martin's cross-checking minor when Gionta slipped an offensive zone draw through Peverley and beat Lehtonen at 8:08 from the bottom of the right circle. That would be the end of Lehtonen's evening.
Lehtonen was pulled after giving up five goals on 24 shots. Johan Hedberg
made seven saves in relief.
Parise's goal at Boston on Jan. 29 broke Kirk Muller’s four-season team record of 105 goals at the start of a career… Brendan Shanahan fared well in his first-period bout with Atlanta tough guy Eric Boulton... Colin White
left the game in the second period with a sore hand and did not return. He was to be reevaluated on Saturday.
|Three star selections