newjerseydevils.com – The power play clicked, Martin Brodeur was perfect, and the Devils are continuing to win games in the new season.
Brodeur needed 25 saves to post his first shutout of the season, while Brian Rolston's power play goal was all the offense New Jersey needed in Thursday's 1-0 win over the Thrashers in Atlanta.
Rolston picked up his first PPG of the season.
With his 541st career win, Brodeur (3-1) moved closer to Patrick Roy's all-time mark of 551, and is now just six shy of Terry Sawchuk's league record of 103 shutouts. He improved to 17-6-8 all-time against Atlanta with his sixth career shutout against the Thrashers.
Brodeur produced one of his best stops of the night on Atlanta leading scorer Bryan Little after Ilya Kovalchuk's long pass sent Little on a partial break. Little's blast from the right circle with five minutes remaining in the second period was turned aside by the four-time Vezina Trophy winner.
Rolston's first of the year broke a scoreless tie late in the middle frame and snapped New Jersey's 0-for-11 skid with the man advantage. The Devils went 1-for-3 on the power play.
He collected a Dainius Zubrus pass in the right corner and drove to the front of the net, where he chipped the puck by Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen at 18:57 to cap a dominant 20 minutes for the Devils.
New Jersey outshot Atlanta by a 21-7 count in the second period alone, and finished with a 35-25 edge in shots.
Rolston, whose tally was his first as a Devil since the 1999-2000 season, left the game with a light ankle sprain midway through the third period and did not return. The Devils centerman lost an edge and hit the boards following a 2-on-1 rush with Patrik Elias. He had to be helped off the ice by Zubrus and Colin White, and said after the game: "My knee is fine."
The Devils (3-1-0) have scored just six goals in four games, but can finish their four-game road trip with a 3-1 mark should they win Saturday in Washington. New Jersey returns to Prudential Center to face the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, Oct. 22, when the team will host Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.
In this week's practices, head coach Brent Sutter focused on getting the power play back on track. The slump continued, however, through two chances in the first period as Mathieu Schneider and Garnet Exelby made trips to the penalty box.
New Jersey's attack was hampered by Lehtonen, who finished with 34 saves and had plenty of help from 18 blocked shots.
The penalty kill, on the other hand, kept Atlanta off the board twice in the first, and started strong in the second period by erasing 1:13 of Travis Zajac's second hooking minor. It would kill off five Atlanta power plays on the night, ending the Devils' streak of three games with at least one goal against.
Looking for the right combinations in the second period, Sutter juggled his forward lines for the first time, moving David Clarkson to the right side of Mike Rupp and Bobby Holik; Zubrus to the middle of Elias and Rolston; and Brian Gionta to the right of Jay Pandolfo and John Madden.
With the game still scoreless, a 3-on-1 for the Zubrus line against Atlanta defenseman Tobias Enstrom failed to score when Zubrus' shot carried high and wide over the left side of the net.
Then, with 1:03 to go in the second, Rolston put the Devils on the scoreboard with the team's second goal in as many games.
Brodeur's first shutout of 2007-08 (3-0 win on Nov. 23, 2007) also came against Atlanta... Thursday marked the return to Atlanta of Bobby Holik, who served as Thrashers' captain in 2007-08 and returned to the Devils during the offseason... Zubrus picked up his first point of the season on Rolston's PPG... Andy Greene saw his first action of the regular season, logging 9:26 of ice time... After playing in New Jersey's first three games, rookie defenseman Anssi Salmela was scratched, along with Sheldon Brookbank and Petr Vrana.
1 - 0 NJD
Delaying Game-Puck over glass
Holding the stick