NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at New Jersey
(Friday, December 31st)
Final Score: New Jersey 3, Atlanta 1
Newark, NJ (Sports Network) - Johan Hedberg stopped 28 shots against his former team to help New Jersey take a 3-1 win over Atlanta at Prudential Center.
Mark Fayne and Jamie Langenbrunner each had a goal for the Devils, who closed out a horrid December by snapping a six-game losing streak. Ilya Kovalchuk tallied a rare goal in the third against the cub that drafted him first overall back in 2001.
New Jersey finished the final month of the year with a record of 2-11-0 and sits dead last in the NHL with just 22 points.
Also, it was the first win for New Jersey interim head coach Jacques Lemaire, who was hired last week when John MacLean was let go. The team was 0-3-0 coming into the game under Lemaire, who guided the team to its first Stanley Cup title in 1995 and is in his third stint with the club.
Dustin Byfuglien scored the lone goal and Chris Mason stopped 25-of-28 shots for the Thrashers, who have dropped five of their last six.
Fayne made it a 1-0 game just 1:18 when his snapper from the point found its way past Mason after a left-circle faceoff win by Jason Arnott.
In the second, the Devils again scored early to extend their lead. A turnover from Freddy Meyer behind his own net was picked up by Arnott, who backhanded a pass to the front where Langenbrunner one-timed it home 61 seconds in.
Hedberg stopped 16 shots through the first two periods and made it past the midway mark of the third without giving up a goal, but Byfuglien blew his shutout bid to make it a 2-1 game.
Good work behind the Jersey net resulted in Alexander Burmistrov getting the puck. He skated to the mid-left boards and sent a backhand pass to the front of the net where Byfuglien, left all alone, had the easy redirect with 7:46 to play.
Kovalchuk, though, gave the team its two-goal margin back 1:26 later when he stole the puck off an Atlanta defender at the right point, skated the length of the ice and cut across the crease before sliding it past Mason for just his ninth goal of the year.
New Jersey had scored just one goal in each contest of the six-game skid and didn't score more than three in a game the entire month...New Jersey plays in Carolina on New Year's Day...Atlanta continues its three-game road trip in Montreal on Sunday...The Thrashers took a 7-1 win over New Jersey on December 18 in Atlanta.
12/31 19:57:48 ET