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NHL Game Summary - New Jersey at Atlanta

(Friday, March 26th)

Final Score: New Jersey 5, Atlanta 0

Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Scott Gomez scored twice and assisted on another goal to lead the New Jersey Devils to an easy 5-0 win over the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.

Patrik Elias also factored in three goals with a goal and two assists for the Devils, who moved two points closer to fourth-place Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race. New Jersey, now with 94 points, is two points out of the all-important fourth spot, but idle Ottawa still sits in fifth with 95 points.

Scott Clemmensen recorded his second shutout in only four starts this season as the Devils rested starting netminder Martin Brodeur for the stretch run.

Had Brodeur played, it would have been a relatively easy night anyway as the Thrashers managed just 18 shots on goal.

"We responded very well tonight," said New Jersey head coach Pat Burns. "We kept our cool and responded when we had to."

Pasi Nurminen allowed five goals on the 32 shots he faced for the Thrashers, who lost for just the second time in seven games (4-1-1-1). Atlanta played an extremely undisciplined game, taking a total of 17 penalties that led to 11 New Jersey power plays.

"It was not one of our best games," said Atlanta coach Bob Hartley. "From the first drop of the puck, we basically never gave ourselves a chance to be in the game."

The Devils struck first on Elias' 36th tally of the season at the 4:28 mark of the opening period, just 12 seconds into a man advantage. Elias was at the lower right circle when he one-timed a pass from Ray Giroux behind Nurminen for the early 1-0 lead.

Gomez made it 2-0 with 3:59 left in the period when he easily slammed home the rebound of a Brian Gionta blast from the right circle.

Atlanta, already looking flat, didn't help its cause as the Thrashers wound up two men down early in the second stanza after an Andy Sutton charging major and an elbowing call to Shawn McEachern.

New Jersey was unable to capitalize on the 5-on-3 advantage but an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Thrashers head coach Bob Hartley late in the second resulted in the Devils' third goal.

Just 24 seconds into the power play, Gomez was able to get a piece of a low wrist shot from the point by Scott Niedermayer for his 12th of the campaign, to send the Devils into the second intermission with a commanding 3-0 lead.

"There were certainly frustrations, but you still have to be able to control your frustration," added Hartley. "You can't let frustration control you."

The Thrashers had two power plays and registered eight shots in the third frame, not including two shots in the last five minutes that rang off the post, giving a good indication of how the night went for Atlanta.

The Devils then added a pair of power-play goals in the final two-plus minutes to put the exclamation point on the victory.

Paul Martin beat Nurminen with a wrist shot from the slot with 2:08 remaining before Sergei Brylin capped the scoring with 11 seconds to play with an assist from Martin.

"We had one 5-on-3 and it was a disaster," Burns said. "The next one, we came out and did what we were supposed to do -- get the puck in the net."

Game Notes

Atlanta has won just four of the last 20 meetings between the two clubs, including a 1-3 mark this year...New Jersey netted four goals on the power play, while the Thrashers were scoreless in four chances with the extra skater...Clemmensen blanked Pittsburgh with 25 saves on January 20 in his first start of the season...The Devils did not allow a goal in the two meetings at Philips Arena this season. Brodeur shutout Atlanta 3-0 on December 18.

03/26 23:58:59 ET

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