Hossa scored two short-handed goals, then connected in the shootout to lead the Thrashers past the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Tuesday night. “We saw the Marian Hossa show,” Atlanta coach Bob Hartley said. “Fans in this building saw why he’s the most complete player in the NHL. He did it all. He was simply a force out there.”
After Slava Kozlov beat Martin Brodeur in the shootout, Hossa decided the game by drilling a shot between the pads of the Devils’ goalie.
“I saw Kozlov go low blocker and I was thinking maybe I’d go the same way,” Hossa said. “I changed my mind and decided to go for the five-hole. It squeezed in.”
At the other end, Kari Lehtonen stopped Zach Parise and Brian Gionta to secure the win for Atlanta.
In regulation, Hossa broke out of a mild scoring slump by setting a Thrashers record for short-handed goals in a game. Jon Sim also scored, and Atlanta extended its winning streak over the Devils to five.
The Devils got power-play scores from Sergei Brylin and Jamie Langenbrunner, and the first NHL goal by defenceman Johnny Oduya.
The Devils outshot the Thrashers 3-1 in overtime. New Jersey’s Brian Rafalski had the best chance with two minutes remaining.
Langenbrunner put New Jersey up 3-2 with a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 6:43 of the third. The celebration was short-lived, though, because Hossa got his second short-hander only 19 seconds later.
Vitaly Vishnevski threw the puck ahead and Hossa grabbed it at centre ice before beating Brodeur from the top of the left circle.
“I used my speed and I saw a guy was cutting to me,” Hossa said. “I knew I just had to take a shot. Maybe I surprised him.”
Hossa wasn’t done. Seconds later, he had another short-handed breakaway that Brodeur stopped with a sprawling save.
“They are momentum breakers,” Brodeur said. “When you play four forwards and a defenceman, it’s going to happen. Teams notice and will take chances, especially with an explosive player like Hossa. He’s so big, so fast, so skilled. He’s tough to contain.”
In the second period, Brylin and Oduya scored to give the Devils a 2-1 lead before Sim got the equalizer for the Thrashers.
Brylin got his third goal in two games by backhanding the rebound from Parise’s shot past Lehtonen at 6:37. Oduya got his first goal with a slap shot from the left point.
Sim tied the game at 2 in a delayed-penalty situation. He banged home Ilya Kovalchuk’s rebound at 16:25.
Hossa gave the Thrashers the lead with his first short-handed goal at 7:59 of the first. Atlanta’s top scorer picked up the puck in his own end, knocked over Rafalski as he gathered momentum in the New Jersey zone before cutting to the net to beat Brodeur with a backhander for the unassisted score.
The goal snapped a three-game stretch in which Hossa did not have a point.
“We need to be better in those areas,” Devils coach Claude Julien said. “We worked hard and scored a couple of power-play goals and we turn around and give them a couple of short-handed goals. We wind up even and that was the big difference.”
Notes: The Devils sent two players to their Lowell (AHL) farm team: RW Cam Janssen and D Alex Brooks. Janssen was sent down on a conditioning assignment. He sustained a separated right shoulder on Nov. 24. … The Thrashers play Pittsburgh on Thursday to start a three-game homestand that includes a return match with the Devils on Saturday. … Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of Larry Robinson stepping down as Devils coach with general manager Lou Lamoriello taking over as coach for the rest of the season and the playoffs. Julien was named coach last summer.