Originally created 11/24/03

Thrashers shut out Coyotes



ATLANTA -- After being bailed out by his offense the past three games, Pasi Nurminen returned the favor.

Nurminen made 21 saves for his fourth career shutout Sunday, leading the Atlanta Thrashers past the Phoenix Coyotes 1-0.

Marc Savard scored the only goal in his return from a nine-game absence. The Thrashers set a franchise record with their fourth consecutive win.

Unlike the previous three, however, when a shaky Nurminen was backed by 16 goals, this one came down to the goaltender.

"Sometimes a goaltender can steal a game," Phoenix coach Bobby Francis said. "Nurminen made some outstanding saves, particularly early. Sometimes the most important saves are the ones made early."

Still, it was a third-period save on Ladislav Nagy that preserved the victory. Nagy waited out Nurminen from close range, and when Nurminen dived headfirst, Nagy went for the exposed top corner. Nurminen managed to reach up and swat the puck with his glove.

"The team helped me out really well again," Nurminen said. "The last three games, and again tonight, they've been playing great. We didn't score many goals tonight, but I think we played a bit of a tired team."

Of Nurminen's four career shutouts, three have been by a 1-0 score and the fourth was a 0-0 tie at the New York Rangers on Oct. 16. Of the 11 shutouts in Thrashers history, eight have been 1-0 or 0-0 and the other three were 2-0.

Atlanta (11-7-3-1), which entered the game one point behind Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division, also beat Phoenix for the first time in eight meetings and is four games over .500 for the first time in team history.

Phoenix (6-8-5-1) tied its season low with 21 shots and was shut out for the second consecutive game.

The Thrashers got a big lift from Savard, who was back three weeks after tearing ligaments in his left ankle. He was expected to miss eight to 10 weeks, but was able to return after two screws were inserted in his ankle. The Thrashers were 5-4 in Savard's absence and missed his leadership on the power play.

He opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 8:25 of the second period. Savard went hard to the net and redirected Randy Robitaille's long wrist shot past Brian Boucher for his sixth goal of the season. Phoenix contended there was goalie interference.

"I don't think there was any contact," Boucher said. "The guy was in the crease when it went off my mitt. He was right behind me at the time."

Savard said it's all about location.

"It just hit my body and I turned with it," said Savard, who said he felt no pain in his ankle.

"Coach Hartley played me the way I should have been played," he added. "He put me in slow and I felt great coming into the third period."

Hartley marveled that Savard was able to get back on the ice, let alone contribute the way he did.

"You can't call it a miracle ... but that has to be close," he said. "Savvy told me about a week ago that he felt he could skate. I thought, knowing Savvy, that he just didn't want to go to the gym."

Notes: The Coyotes are 0-4-4-1 on the road since winning their first two away from home. They play 10 of their next 14 on the road. ... Phoenix scored nine goals in two victories over Atlanta last year. ... Atlanta is 6-0-1-1 when outshooting its opponent. ... Atlanta has outscored opponents 45-33 in the second and third periods. ... Atlanta leads the Eastern Conference with 65 goals.