Atlanta at New Jersey

Lehtonen stops 29 shots to earn first shutout for Thrashers this season


NEWARK, N.J. -- John Anderson and the Atlanta Thrashers hope a road shutout victory propels the struggling team to better things.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist, and Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season in the Thrashers' 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

"To come in here against a team like New Jersey, that plays so consistently good and are so big and strong, to win like that, we really needed that," said Anderson, the Thrashers' coach. "I now know that there is a pulse in our room, that they do care. I appreciate that."

Colby Armstrong, Jim Slater and Marty Reasoner also scored for the Thrashers, 2-4-1 in their last seven games.

It was the Thrashers' first shutout of the season. For Lehtonen, it was his 12th career shutout and first against the Devils.

Kovalchuk, added Thursday to the Eastern Conference team for the NHL All-Star Game, lived up to the billing with key contributions in Atlanta's three-goal second period.

"It's always nice to get a win," Kovalchuk said. "Hopefully in the second half of the season we will get way more points than we did in the first half. This was a total team effort. Guys were fighting to finish checks, and Kari gave us a hell of a game."

Lehtonen also had a star turn to preserve the win, coming up with a big pad stop on Brian Rolston's breakaway bid in the scoreless first period.

New Jersey, which had won five of the previous six games against Atlanta, suffered its fourth shutout of the season, all at home.

Armstrong opened the scoring at 3:03 of the second, chipping a shot into the slot that dribbled through Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen.

Kovalchuk upped the lead to 2-0 with a power-play blast from the high slot at 5:31. He later nudged the puck ahead to create the 2-on-1 break for Slater and Chris Thorburn that Slater polished off at the 14-minute mark.

Clemmensen, making his 13th straight start for the Devils, was yanked after allowing three goals on 19 shots through two periods.

"It was a coach's decision," Clemmensen said about the benching. "The way the game was going at that point, there was very little room for argument."

Kevin Weekes took over in the third, and was victimized on the first shot he faced when Reasoner made it 4-0 at 2:09.

Devils coach Brent Sutter was at a loss to find a single positive, admitting it was New Jersey's poorest effort of the season.

"You guys saw it as well I did," Sutter said. "I feel bad for anybody who had to come and watch that."


  • The Devils head out on a six-game trip that starts in Los Angeles against the Kings on Saturday. They return on Jan. 21 to host Montreal before playing two more on the road in Ottawa and Boston.
  • Devils D Colin White returned after missing five games with an upper-body injury. With White back, the Devils scratched Jay Leach.
  • Each team had a forward named Thursday as a reserve for the All-Star Game: Kovalchuk for the Thrashers and Zach Parise for the Devils.
  • C Bryan Little, the Thrashers' leading goal scorer with 19, missed his second straight game because of a rib injury.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Kari Lehtonen's shutout is his first of the season and first against the Devils in his career. (Getty Images)
Kari Lehtonen's shutout is his first of the season and first against the Devils in his career. (Getty Images)
Atlanta  (14-23-5) «0314
New Jersey (23-14-3)0000
Three Stars
K. Lehtonen

Saves: 29
Save Pct.: 1.000
I. Kovalchuk

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
T. White

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2

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Scoring Summary
03:03Colby Armstrong (11), Backhand Shot. Assist: White
05:31Power Play - Ilya Kovalchuk (15), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kozlov, White
14:00Jim Slater (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Thorburn, Kovalchuk
02:09Marty Reasoner (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Hainsey, Crabb
Penalty Summary
11:28Clarkson, 5 min, Fighting
11:28Thorburn, 5 min, Fighting
13:50Valabik, 2 min, Interference
17.0Kozlov, 2 min, Hooking
04:45Clarkson, 2 min, Roughing
05:38Rupp, 2 min, Holding
07:02Hainsey, 2 min, Interference
11:18Boulton, 2 min, Instigator
11:18Rupp, 5 min, Fighting
02:51Boulton, 4 min, Roughing
07:03Rupp, 5 min, Fighting
07:03Boulton, 2 min, Roughing
07:03Boulton, 5 min, Fighting
07:03Boulton, 10 min, Misconduct
08:47Oystrick, 2 min, Cross-Checking
10:03Elias, 2 min, Tripping
10:32Holik, 2 min, Goaltender Interference
18:56Zajac, 2 min, Holding
Shots On Goal
New Jersey6131029
Kari Lehtonen60:00290
Scott Clemmensen40:00163
Kevin Weekes20:0041
Power Play Conversions
Power Play
New Jersey0-for-7
Game Information
Attendance - 16489
Referees - Paul Devorski, Frederick L'Ecuyer
Linesmen - Pierre Champoux, Steve Miller
Other Games
Ana 3 Final
LA 4
NYI 2 Final
Cal 5
Dal 1 Final
Det 6
Car 2 Final
Fla 4
Ott 4 Final
Bos 6
Chi 1 Final
Colo 2
TB 2 Final
Pho 3
Tor 2 Final
Mon 6
Min 1 Final
Phi 3
Pitt 3 Final
Nash 5