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NHL New Jersey Devils Stay Top After Thrashers Comeback

The New Jersey Devils clung onto their slender lead atop the National Hockey League standings thanks to a rousing second period comeback on the road to the Atlanta Thrashers last Saturday.

With Jacques Lemaire’s men trailing 3-1 after the first period, four unanswered goals gave the Devils a deserved lead and they managed to survive a late Thrashers rally in the third to eek out a 5-4 victory.

With New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur starting the game with aspirations of breaking Terry Sawchuck’s NHL record of 103 career shut-outs just a day after he’d set the league record for games played by a goalie, he and his team’s night got off to the worst possible start as he conceded three out of six Atlanta shots on goal.

Ron Hainsey and New Jersey’s Rob Neidermayer exchanged early goals before the Thrashers pulled ahead with strikes from Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina, with the beleaguered Brodeur pulled from the game by Lemaire at the end of the first period.

Yann Danis took over in the New Jersey net and the change of goalie brought with it a chance of impetus, with the Devils blitzing Ondrej Pavelec goal in a devastating seven-minute spell. Having outshot their opponents 24-6 in the first period despite being behind, the Devils attacking superiority was soon bound to tell, and they duly went ahead after Brian Rolston, Dean McAmmond and Rod Pelley all found the net.

A second goal for Dean McAmmond after he finished off a 2-on-1 with Patrik Elias completed the turnaround in the third, and though Danis was beaten by a Vyacheslav Kozlov power-play goal late on, the Devils held on to take the points back to New Jersey. Having now won their last four games, Lemaire’s team stay ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins on goal difference despite playing two games fewer.
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