Final

Series (Game 1 of 4)

New Jersey leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, December 18th
Devils3Final
Jets0
Game 2: Sunday, January 25th
Jets2Final
Devils3
Game 3: Friday, February 27th
Jets3Final
Devils2
Game 4: Friday, March 26th
Devils5Final
Jets0

Devils 3

(17-6-0, 41 pts)

Jets 0

(16-14-1, 36 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 18, 2003

Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

1 2 3 T
NJ 0 1 23
WPG 0 0 00

M. Brodeur (Devils - G): Saves: 15, Save Pct.: 1.000

C. White (Devils - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

S. Stevens (Devils - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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