for this game

Lehtonen unbeatable as Thrashers blank Devils

Jan 9, 2009 - 7:48 AM
By Daren Smith PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Thrashers let coach John Anderson know they are still breathing.

Colby Armstrong and a resurgent Ilya Kovalchuk scored 2:28 apart during a three-goal second period and Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for his first shutout in nearly a year as the Thrashers blanked the New Jersey Devils, 4-0, on Thursday.

Jim Slater netted the other second-period goal, Marty Reasoner tallied in the third and Todd White collected a pair of assists for Atlanta, which won for only the second time in eight games (2-5-1) and for the first time in regulation since beating the New York Islanders on December 23.

"I now know there's a pulse in our room and that we do care," Anderson said. "To come in here against a team like New Jersey, which plays so consistently good and is big and strong, to win on the road like that when we really needed it says a lot about our room."

Lehtonen turned aside six shots in the first period, 13 in the second and 10 in the third en route to his first shutout of the season and 12th career. The 25-year-old Finn had not held an opponent scoreless since blanking Tampa Bay on March 31.

Scott Clemmensen lasted only two periods, allowing three goals on 19 shots in his 13th straight start for the Devils, who have lost two in a row and been shut out three times in their last five home games.

While Anderson called it the Thrashers' most complete effort of the season, Devils counterpart Brent Sutter believed it was his team's low point.

"I feel bad for anyone who had to come and watch that," Sutter said. "We didn't play tonight at all, that's a no-brainer.

"It's about everybody. I'm not leaving anybody off the hook - goaltenders, defensemen, forwards. They just have to get back to where they need to be."

Lehtonen was on his game early, denying Brian Rolston on a breakaway six minutes in and getting a piece of Patrik Elias' chance during a 3-on-1 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first period.

"When you start thinking about (a shutout), the other team scores," Lehtonen said. "The first half of the game, I felt good. I just tried to keep it going and got lucky a couple of times in the third."

Lehtonen helped Atlanta successfully kill a pair of third-period power plays, including a four-minute advantage after enforcer Eric Boulton received a double-minor for roughing.

"It doesn't make me very happy to see our guys going to the box, but we were able to kill them, and that was great," Lehtonen said. "It was a lot easier that the game was 4-0 at that time. If it would've been tighter, I might have snapped a little bit (at) a couple of guys."

The Thrashers also killed a couple of power plays in the opening 22 minutes, limiting the Devils to one shot. Just 46 seconds after the second man advantage expired, Armstrong broke the scoreless deadlock.

After grabbing a loose puck behind the net, Armstrong moved just above the end line on the right side and unleashed a backhander. The puck trickled past Clemmensen, who inadvertently knocked it across the goal line while sprawling backward in the crease at 3:03.

Atlanta, which had scored just one goal in three of its previous four games, needed less than a minute to convert its first power play as Kovalchuk received a cross-ice pass from Vyacheslav Kozlov and blasted a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle past Clemmensen at 5:31. It was his 15th goal of the season and fourth in five games.

"Kozzie made a great play and I was right in the middle of the zone," said Kovalchuk, who earlier in the day was named as a reserve on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

It also was Kovalchuk's 98th career goal with the man advantage.

Slater capped the second-period outburst with exactly six minutes to go, receiving a pass from Chris Thorburn alone in the slot and pulled the puck from his backhand to his forehand before sliding it past Clemmensen for his fourth tally. It came moments after Lehtonen got his glove on David Clarkson's wrist shot during a 2-on-1 rush.

Reasoner ended his 10-game goalless drought at 2:09 of the third, beating Kevin Weekes from just above the right circle on the first shot the backup goalie faced.

"We have to be more consistent. We have to play the kind of hockey we played tonight more often," Kovalchuk said. "That's the only way we can turn the season around and get closer to the playoffs."

New Jersey has a firm grasp on a playoff spot but embarks on a season-high five-game road trip Saturday at Los Angeles.

"This may be the best thing for us," Sutter said. "We need to get away and start that process that needs to be done. I trust this group. We've had a bump in the road that we'll deal with."

The loss was New Jersey's first to Atlanta in regulation in their last nine meetings (6-1-2). The Devils outscored the Thrashers, 7-1, in two victories earlier this season.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 3 1 4
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 11 (TODD WHITE) 3:03
    ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCHUK 15 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, TODD WHITE)
    5:31
    ATL - JIM SLATER 4 (CHRIS THORBURN, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 14:00
    3RD PRD: ATL - MARTY REASONER 7 (RON

    Jan 8 9:33 PM
  • 58
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Thrashers 4, Devils 0  3rd - 13:45Jan 8 9:12 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 4
    NEW JERSEY 0
    3RD PRD: ATL - MARTY REASONER 7 (RON HAINSEY, JOSEPH CRABB) 2:09

    Thrashers 4, Devils 0  3rd - 17:51Jan 8 9:02 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 3 3
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 11 (TODD WHITE) 3:03
    ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCHUK 15 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, TODD WHITE)
    5:31
    ATL - JIM SLATER 4 (CHRIS THORBURN, ILYA KOVALCHUK) 14:00
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1

    Jan 8 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 3
    NEW JERSEY 0
    2ND PRD: ATL - JIM SLATER 4 (CHRIS THORBURN, TOBIAS ENSTROM) 14:00

    Thrashers 3, Devils 0  2nd - 6:00Jan 8 8:29 PM
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    RUWTbot Added 43 roots

    Thrashers 2, Devils 0  2nd - 8:55Jan 8 8:20 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 2
    NEW JERSEY 0
    2ND PRD: ATL - (PP) ILYA KOVALCHUK 15 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, TODD WHITE)
    5:31

    Thrashers 2, Devils 0  2nd - 14:29Jan 8 8:09 PM


  • NHL
    ATLANTA 1
    NEW JERSEY 0
    2ND PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 11 (TODD WHITE) 3:03

    Thrashers 1, Devils 0  2nd - 16:57Jan 8 8:08 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATLANTA 0 0
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    ATL 9 9
    NJD 6 6
    GOALIES: ATL - KARI LEHTONEN
    NJD - SCOTT CLEMMENSEN

    Jan 8 7:42 PM
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    roots
    Silversword55 Added 5 roots

    Thrashers vs. DevilsJan 8 4:41 PM
  • 5
    roots
    davipilo Added 5 roots

    Thrashers vs. DevilsJan 8 8:27 AM