ATLANTA – Eric Boulton scored three times for his first career NHL hat trick, Chris Thorburn added a goal and two assists, and the Atlanta Thrashers routed the reeling New Jersey Devils 7-1 on Saturday night.
Former Atlanta captain Ilya Kovalchuk scored a power-play goal in the second period for the Devils, who have dropped 11 of 15 overall and eight straight on the road.
Ron Hainsey, Boulton and Evander Kane gave the Thrashers a 3-0 lead with first-period goals. Atlanta, which has won three of five, earned its 22nd point in the last 15 games.
Combined with Washington's loss to Boston, the Thrashers' victory moved them into first place in the Southeast Division.
Andrew Ladd's wrister 6:37 into the second put Atlanta ahead 4-0, and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was replaced less than a minute later.
Brodeur, the NHL's career leader in victories, shutouts and games played, lost for the second straight night and has dropped four of five starts since returning from an elbow injury.
Johan Hedberg replaced Brodeur (5-14-1), who stopped 11 of 15 shots. Hedberg made four saves on seven shots.
Boulton's second goal of the season, a wrister from the slot 15:30 into the first, made it 2-0.
Boulton was credited with his third goal and his first career multigoal game to put the Thrashers ahead 5-1 with 15:53 remaining. A video review showed that his shot near the right post crossed the goal line before Boulton ran into Hedberg and dislodged the net.
With 3:06 remaining, Boulton scored on a backhander for a 6-1 lead.
Thorburn assisted on Boulton's first two goals before scoring his fifth with 1:02 left in the game.
Hainsey's first goal, a wrister from the left circle, made it 1-0 at 10:56 of the first. He assisted on Kane's 11th goal, a wrister 16:08 in for a 3-0 lead.
Ondrej Pavelec (11-6-3) made 26 saves for the win.
New Jersey's offense continued to struggle. After recording a season-low 16 shots in a 3-1 home loss to Nashville on Friday, the Devils managed just four shots in the first period. They combined for 23 shots in the second and third but had only Kovalchuk's third goal in three games — and eighth overall — to show for it.
Kovalchuk, facing the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2001 but remade its roster after trading him to New Jersey 10 months ago, was booed repeatedly in his second trip to Philips Arena as an opposing player.
The Devils have dropped 21 of 32 games decided in regulation.
NOTES: Atlanta D Johnny Oduya, acquired from New Jersey in the Kovalchuk trade, drew an ovation for blocking Patrik Elias' rebound attempt late in the second. ... New Jersey dropped to 5-12 on the road. ... The Devils are 1-14 when trailing after one period and 1-19 when trailing after two. ... The Thrashers are 4-13-4 against New Jersey at home.