Brodeur has 72 career shutouts

ATLANTA (AP) -- After one of their worst losses of the season,
Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils found the perfect remedy --
the struggling Atlanta Thrashers.

Brodeur earned his eighth shutout this season and 72nd of his
career, and Rob Skrlac had his first NHL goal to help the New
Jersey Devils beat the Atlanta Thrashers 3-0 Thursday night.

Colin White and Scott Gomez added goals for New Jersey, still
stinging from a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. The
Devils blew a 2-0 lead in that one, but Brodeur made sure it didn't
happen again.

"We wanted to bounce back from the way we played on Long
Island," Brodeur said. "After a shootout like that, it's nice to
come back and have a shutout."

The Devils won for the fifth time in seven games.

Brodeur could challenge the record for shutouts in a season, set
by George Hainsworth who had 22 in the 44-game season of 1928-29.
The post-expansion record is 15 set by Tony Esposito in 1969-70,
and New Jersey has 52 games remaining.

Brodeur has four in his past seven games, and his career total
is the highest by an active goaltender. He's 31 short of Terry
Sawchuk's NHL record.

"Is that what it is?" Brodeur said of his recent streak.
"We've been playing good hockey. A lot of things can happen to
prevent you from getting a shutout."

His best save came midway through the second period, about two
minutes after Skrlac gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead. During an Atlanta
power play, Ilya Kovalchuk took a pass near the blue line and
quickly slapped the puck toward the net, but the shot bounced off
Brodeur's chest and was cleared.

"We have a lot of respect for the Thrashers," Brodeur said.
"It was the kind of game where one goal can make the difference."

The Thrashers lost their third in a row, all shutouts, after a
four-game winning streak. Their lead in the Southeast Division
shrunk to three points over Tampa Bay, which beat Philadelphia 5-4
in overtime Thursday night.

"Right now, we are not scoring many goals, but everyone better
remember we can score goals, and I think we'll get back to that
sooner or later," Atlanta goaltender Pasi Nurminen said.

Skrlac, in only the second game of his career after being
recalled from Albany of the AHL, redirected a shot by Erik
Rasmussen into the net.

With Atlanta's Frantisek Kaberle and Ben Simon joining Skrlac in
front of the net, Nurminen never saw the shot, and threw up his
arms in frustration when it bounced off Skrlac's leg and went in.

Skrlac originally got credit for the goal before it was changed
to Rasmussen. In the third period, it was changed again, giving
Skrlac his first NHL goal after six years in the minors.

"I wasn't sure it was my goal," he said. "I didn't know until
I came off the ice at the end. What a moment."

Nurminen also never saw White's goal. Igor Larionov won a clean
faceoff, and the puck went straight back to White, who skated a bit
to his right and shot. Again, Nurminen was left to simply throw his
arms up.

"Our forward went straight to the man so I lost the puck,"
Nurminen said. "Usually when a guy goes straight to the puck, he's
going to block the shot, but it didn't happen this time."

Gomez added his third of the season in the third period to make
it 3-0.

Game notes
Atlanta D Andy Sutton squared off against White late in the
game, but few punches were thrown. Once Sutton took White's helmet
off, both players fell to the ice. ... Thrashers D Chris Tamer
played for the first time in seven games. He was a healthy scratch
in the previous six. ... New Jersey has two games left on a
five-game trip.