EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - As a Canadian youngster, Michael Garnett wanted to be a goalie like his idol, Martin Brodeur.
He never expected that his first NHL shutout would come at the expense of Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. The 23-year-old Garnett made 29 saves, and the Atlanta Thrashers earned a 1-0 victory Friday night.
"It's amazing," he said. "This is something I dreamed about forever. To have it come against the Devils and Marty Brodeur is pretty special. He was my hero as a kid. I never thought something like this would happen."
Garnett, who defeated the Devils for the second time in nine days, said he had a good feeling about the game from the start.
"Everything just seemed to go right for me," Garnett said. "Sometimes, you can play well and the puck then just bounces into the net. But tonight, everything that was put on net, I had a good read on. I knew nothing was going to go in."
The victory was the fourth in five games for the Thrashers (15-16-5), with the lone loss coming in a shootout against Washington on Thursday. Atlanta also in a road victory over the Devils on Dec. 15.
New Jersey (15-15-5) lost for the second time in three games since general manager Lou Lamoriello assumed the duties of coach, replacing Larry Robinson, who resigned due to health problems.
"It's a tough one to lose," said Brodeur, who made 23 saves. "We're getting a team at home who's playing on back-to-back nights. We have to be able to get those games.
"One little breakdown on our defense and they scored on it and that was it. It's a disappointing loss."
Garnett preserved his shutout when he robbed John Madden from point-blank range, making a glove save on a slap shot with 3:21 remaining.
Atlanta scored the lone goal in the second period on a power play, just 23 seconds after Devils defenseman Sean Brown was called for hooking. Former Devils forward Bobby Holik, soundly booed every time he touched the puck, dug it out of the corner and passed to Niclas Havelid in front. Havelid's slap shot was deflected by Marian Hossa, who netted his 17th goal at 9:03 of the second period.
The Devils had two good scoring chances in the first period, both that went to video review.
The first came when Brian Gionta fired one to the back of Garnett's legs. The shot appeared to be trickling beyond the goal line, but defenseman Andy Sutton pushed it aside before it went in.
Then, as the first period ended, Scott Gomez raced in untouched and fired a shot that seemed to elude Garnett. He fell on the puck, protecting it with his legs and keeping it from crossing the line.
"The defense has really picked it up lately," Garnett said. "Our discipline is better. We're not taking stupid penalties. We're heading in the right direction."
The same can't be said for the Devils, who failed in all eight of their power-play opportunities, giving them just two goals in 57 chances.
"It's getting pretty frustrating," Devils forward Sergei Brylin said. "We talk about the power play every day. The only way to change that is to keep trying. We created our chances today, but it just wasn't our day."
Lamoriello was pleased with the performance, not the result.
"I couldn't ask for a better effort," Lamoriello said. "The attitude is good. But we didn't get anything out of our power play and that has been the Achilles' heel lately.
"I have no answers at this point why we're not scoring. We have our chances. They're just not going in."
Notes: Atlanta played without All-Star LW Ilya Kovalchuk, who was suspended by the NHL for one game for throwing his stick into the stands Thursday against Washington. ... Devils RW Viktor Kozlov was chose for the Russian Olympic team. The Devils will send five players to Turin, Italy, in February. Gomez, Gionta and Brian Rafalski were chosen by the United States, Brodeur will suit up for Canada. ... New Jersey's 41-year-old D Tommy Albelin saw his first action since being signed last Tuesday. He played 11 minutes and saw time on the power play. He had been practicing with the team all season. "You can't ask for a better game than what Tommy gave us," Lamoriello said. "He's a true veteran. I could see he got his legs under him."
|PPG - Marian Hossa (17) ASST: Niclas Havelid (12), Bobby Holik (9)|
1 - 0 ATL
|Karl Stewart Charging against Paul Martin|
|Daniel Mcgillis Hooking against Jim Slater|
|Jaroslav Modry Hooking against John Madden|
|Scott Mellanby Holding against Paul Martin|
|Ronald Petrovicky Hooking against Alexander Mogilny|
|Sean Brown Hooking against Ronald Petrovicky|
|Zach Parise Hooking against Garnet Exelby|
|Marc Savard Hooking against Colin White|
|Marc Savard Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Serge Aubin Tripping against Scott Gomez|
|John Madden Holding the stick against Garnet Exelby|
|Jim Slater Hooking against Zach Parise|