ATLANTA – Martin Brodeur had no problem with being benched.
The New Jersey Devils pulled the record-setting goalie after he allowed three first-period goals, then rallied for three second-period goals and went on to a 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night.
“After three goals on six shots, we had to do something,” said Brodeur, who said he didn’t lobby to stay in the game. “No, no, no. We needed a kick in the butt. It’s all about winning, with me or without me.”
“We changed goalies to make a difference,” said Devils coach Jacques Lemaire. “I thought it was a good opportunity to put (Yann) Danis in and rest him (Brodeur).”
Dean McAmmond scored two goals for the Devils (25-8-1), who won their fourth straight and eighth in nine games in moving to a NHL-best 12-2-1 on the road. The Thrashers (18-13-3) fell to 8-7-2 at home.
One night after Brodeur played in his 1,030th regular-season NHL game Friday night to set a record for goalies, passing Patrick Roy, the New Jersey star was lifted after allowing three goals on six shots in the first period. The last time Brodeur was removed early from a game was last season on March 7 in a 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders. He gave up six goals on 26 shots that night.
Danis stopped 19 of 20 shots in the last two periods. He allowed Slava Kozlov’s power-play goal with 3:56 in the third that pulled Atlanta to 5-4. Danis is 3-0 in four games this season.
“I tried to stay focused and make sure that I made the first save when I got the first shot,” Danis said. “I feel like you always have to prove yourself.”
The Devils, who trailed 3-1 after the opening period, scored three straight goals in the second period to go ahead 4-3.
“The tables got turned right away,” Atlanta coach John Anderson. “But one thing I love about this team is that we just don’t quit. We tried to make it exciting against the first-place team in the league. We’re starting to be able to compete with these guys.”
Brian Rolston scored at the 2:46 mark, beating Ondrej Pavelec for his 13th goal. Less than four minutes later McAmmond scored his second goal to tie it at 3 on a power play. Rod Pelley put the Devils in front 4-3 with his first goal at 10:04 of the period. It was only his third NHL goal in 98 games and second against Atlanta.
McAmmond scored his third goal of the season with 8:25 left in the final period to put the Devils up 5-3.
The Thrashers, who had won three of four, opened the scoring on a goal by Ron Hainsey 7:15 into the game. It was his third goal.
The Devils tied it on a goal by Rob Niedermayer, his fifth, at 12:55 before Atlanta took the lead again on a goal by Nik Antropov, his seventh.
The Thrashers made it 3-1 less than three minutes later on a goal by Pavel Kubina, his fourth. Kubina also assisted on Hainsey’s goal.
“We got outplayed in the first and built a false lead,” said Hainsey. “They outplayed us the entire game except for our goaltender.”
New Jersey outshot Atlanta 24-6 in the first period, 42-26 overall.
“The guys kept working hard. It’s a gret win for us because of the situation. Our first period was probably our best period,” Lemaire said.
“We were sleeping during the first period,” said Pavelec. “We did not play 60 minutes. Five goals is five goals no matter how many shots.”
NOTES: Ilya Kovalchuk had an assist and has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last five games. … The Thrashers were 11-1 when they scored first. … The Thrashers beat New Jersey 4-2 in their first meeting this season on Oct. 16. … Brodeur has 103 career shutouts, tied with Terry Sawchuk.