New Jersey
Devils
46-27-9
Atlanta
Thrashers
41-33-8
OT
41 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdOTT
NJD
ATL
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Devils-Thrashers Preview

Thursday, 03.23.2006 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Devils-Thrashers Preview
New Jersey Devils vs. Atlanta Thrashers

GAME: New Jersey Devils (34-26-8) at Atlanta Thrashers (34-29-6).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Atlanta Thrashers have turned their season around and are surging toward their first playoff appearance.

Atlanta looks to continue its solid play since the Olympic break and sweep the season series from the New Jersey Devils for the first time when the teams meet at Philips Arena.

The Thrashers are 11-4-0 since dropping a season-high seven games in a row from Jan. 19-Feb. 3, and have won eight of 11 since the break.

Jim Slater moved the Thrashers into sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference when he scored in the fourth extra shootout session to give Atlanta a 5-4 win over Boston on Tuesday.

The Thrashers came back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to take a one-point lead over Montreal in the conference.

"It's just another important win. They're all big wins. We're desperate," Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. "We didn't get the start (of the game) we were looking for. But we got back to our game and got some great goals. Tonight is just another two points and there's a lot of hockey to be played."

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen has started the last 15 games for the Thrashers, posting a 2.41 goals-against average with one shutout over that span. He made 27 saves against the Bruins.

"It was just amazing how we played that last period," he said. "We turned it around."

Atlanta trails seventh-place New Jersey by two points in the East, but has won all three meetings between the teams this season.

The Devils are trying to get back on track offensively after being outscored 19-7 in dropping four of their last five games. New Jersey managed just 21 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"You just keep working," Devils coach Lou Lamoriello said. "You can't look back. I'm not worried about them pressing offensively. We know what we have to do."

Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur has struggled in the last five games with a 4.58 GAA and .821 save percentage. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner has also has trouble with the Thrashers, dropping four consecutive starts after losing just twice in his first 17 appearances against them.

STANDINGS: Devils - 76 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Atlantic Division. Thrashers - 74 points, 3rd place, 24 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Devils - Brian Gionta, 37 goals and 65 points; Scott Gomez, 35 assists; Colin White, 77 PIM. Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 43 goals; Marc Savard, 58 assists; Kovalchuk and Savard, 84 points; Andy Sutton, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Devils - Power play: 16.0 percent (60 for 374), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.6 percent (240 for 294), 19th. Thrashers - Power play: 19.0 percent (88 for 463), 6th. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (342 for 427), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Devils - Brodeur (32-22-6, 5 SO, 2.60 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (2-4-2, 3.49). Thrashers - Lehtonen (17-12-0, 2, 2.68); Mike Dunham (4-4-1, 1, 2.79).

SEASON SERIES: Thrashers, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 23; Thrashers, 1-0. At East Rutherford, N.J., Marian Hossa scored and Michael Garnett made 29 saves for his first career shutout.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devils - 13-16-5 on the road; Thrashers - 19-13-4 at home.

2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 23 '06NJD 5 at ATL 6 - OTP. Bondra
Dec 23 '05ATL 1 at NJD 0M. Hossa
Dec 15 '05ATL 3 at NJD 2 - OTM. Savard
Oct 22 '05NJD 3 at ATL 4R. Petrovicky
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GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
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