NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, February 15th
(All times eastern)
Atlanta Thrashers (28-27-4) at New Jersey Devils (32-21-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of clubs locked in heated division races meet
tonight in Newark, as the New Jersey Devils welcome the Atlanta Thrashers to
the Prudential Center.
The Devils have 68 points and come into tonight's test one behind Pittsburgh
for the Atlantic Division lead. Meanwhile, Atlanta's 60 points has the club
tied for second in the Southeast with Washington and two points in back of
New Jersey is 2-1-0 on a four-game homestand that ends tonight and has posted
back-to-back wins in the residency. After slamming Carolina, 6-1, last
Saturday, the Devils also notched Wednesday's close win over the Eastern
Conference-leading Ottawa Senators.
Brian Gionta's goal 2:14 into overtime lifted New Jersey to the 3-2 decision
over the Senators.
Jamie Langenbrunner wouldn't give up the puck in the neutral zone, then banked
it off the boards before catching up to the disc and firing a shot toward the
net. The puck ricocheted off a skate, Langenbrunner collected it again and
sent a backhand pass toward the net, where Gionta knocked it home.
Langenbrunner ended with a goal and an assist, as New Jersey won its second
straight following a two-game skid. Karel Rachunek also tallied, Patrik Elias
had a pair of assists and Martin Brodeur ended with 23 saves for the Devils.
Brodeur improved to 30-19-3 on the year and extended his NHL record with his
12th consecutive season with 30 or more wins.
The Devils are 18-11-0 as the host club this season and have won four of their
last five at the Rock.
Atlanta has also won two in a row and is coming off Wednesday's thrilling win
over the Capitals. Eric Perrin scored the game-deciding goal in the shootout,
as the Thrashers notched a 3-2 decision in an important Southeast test at
In the first round of the shootout, Perrin skated in on Olaf Kolzig and curled
to the backhand before switching to the forehand and lifting the puck over the
fallen netminder. After Alexander Semin was stopped by Kari Lehtonen,
Slava Kozlov swooped in from the right wing and snapped the puck past the
right pad of Kolzig.
Boyd Gordon had the chance to extend the shootout, but his offering deflected
off the glove of Lehtonen, who was able to stop the bouncing puck from
crossing the goal line to secure the win.
Marian Hossa posted a goal and an assist for the Thrashers, who wrapped up a
four-game homestand with a mark of 2-2-0. Perrin also scored in regulation and
Lehtonen made 39 saves.
With the victory, Atlanta briefly forged a three-way tie with Washington and
Carolina for first place in the Southeast. That was until the Hurricanes
defeated Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Tonight's test marks the opening of a five-game road trip for the Thrashers,
who are 12-13-2 as the visitor this season. Atlanta, which will continue the
swing Saturday night against the New York Islanders, has lost three of its
last four road tilts.
The Devils are 3-0 against Atlanta this season and have won four of the last
five meetings, but the Thrashers have taken seven of 11 matchups overall. New
Jersey has won its last two home tests against Atlanta, but tonight's game
marks just the second trip for the Thrashers to the Devils' new building.
02/15 10:37:07 ET