ATLANTA (AP) — Martin Brodeur got his 600th career win with his second straight shutout and the New Jersey Devils beat the Thrashers 3-0 on Tuesday night in Ilya Kovalchuk's return to Atlanta.
Kovalchuk, the former Thrashers captain who was traded to the Devils two months ago, didn't score but returned to see the Thrashers eliminated from playoff contention for the ninth time in their 10-year history.
The Devils began the night tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division and second place in the Eastern Conference, taking over that spot when the Penguins lost to Washington.
The shutout was Brodeur's league-leading ninth of the season and the 110th of his career. Brodeur and the Devils beat Carolina 4-0 on Saturday.
The 37-year-old Brodeur improved to 10-2-2 against Atlanta. He was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period in Atlanta on Dec. 19, but the Devils still beat the Thrashers 5-4.
McAmmond scored on a pass from Dainius Zubrus in the first period, and the Devils padded the lead with goals in the opening minute of each of the next two periods. Parise pushed the puck past Johan Hedberg 51 seconds into the second period, and Zajac scored 10 seconds into the third.
Hedberg stopped 24 shots.
Kovalchuk made his first return to Atlanta since a Feb. 4 trade that sent forward Niclas Bergfors and defenseman Johnny Oduya to the Thrashers. Atlanta general manager Don Waddell said he made the trade after Kovalchuk turned down contract extension offers of 12 years for $101 million and seven years for $70 million.
Kovalchuk will become a free agent after this season.
The Thrashers career scoring leader was booed when he came on the ice for his first shift. There were more boos when he was featured on the video board during a first-period break and when he handled the puck.
NOTES: Each team was 0 for 2 on the power play. ... Fans raised a sign in the third period which read "Kovalchump." The sign was removed. ... The Thrashers announced two team awards: C Marty Reasoner was voted best team player by teammates. Hedberg accumulated the most points from being named a first, second, or third star after games. ... Atlanta F Colby Armstrong served the second game of his two-game suspension for using his elbow to deliver a blow against Washington's Mathieu Perreault.