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Devils burn Thrashers
A shot gets past Atlanta Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen in the second period Friday against the New Jersey Devils in Atlanta. - photo by John Bazemore

ATLANTA — Kevin Weekes made 31 saves, New Jersey scored three goals in the first 12 minutes and the Devils recovered from their only loss in three weeks to beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-1 on Friday night.

Zach Parise and John Madden each had a goal and an assist for New Jersey.

The Devils, who had an eight-game winning streak end with a loss to Washington on Tuesday night, have won nine of 10. The Thrashers have lost five of six.

Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and Brian Gionta added goals for New Jersey. Madden and Gionta scored short-handed.

Colby Armstrong scored for Atlanta.

The scoring highlighted the gap between the Atlantic Division-leading Devils and the Thrashers, who are last in the Southeast Division with 41 points, second-lowest in the NHL. New Jersey had the two short-handed goals, while Atlanta has only one power-play goal in 32 chances in its last nine games, including 0-for-7 against the Devils.

With the Devils leading 3-0, Colby Armstrong scored Atlanta’s only goal early in the second period. The Devils answered quickly with a power-play goal by Parise and Gionta’s unassisted goal.

Kari Lehtonen stopped 19 shots, but was pulled after giving up five goals in 28 minutes. Johan Hedberg replaced Lehtonen in the net for Atlanta.

The Devils made a strong answer to a 4-0 home loss to Atlanta on Jan. 8, a loss Brent Sutter said may have been the worst in his time as New Jersey’s coach. Sutter, who pulled goalie Scott Clemmensen in the second period of last month’s loss to the Thrashers, gave Weekes his first start since Jan. 16.

New Jersey’s defense gave Weekes ample time to become comfortable in his return to the ice. The Thrashers managed only four shots on goal in the opening period. The Devils’ 3-0 lead came on 18 shots on goal.

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