COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Pascal Leclaire made 21 saves for his league-leading seventh shutout and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Atlanta Thrashers 2-0 on Wednesday night.

The Thrashers saw their four-game winning streak snapped in their first visit to Columbus in just over four years. Ilya Kovalchuk, the league’s top goal scorer with 29, was held to just one shot.

With Rick Nash out nursing a sore throat, Dan Fritsche and Jared Boll picked up the scoring for Columbus, which entered having tallied only four goals in the last four games, three of them loses.

Fritsche started the scoring with a power-play goal at 7:39 of the first period on a wrist shot down the right wing that snuck under the arm of goalie Kari Lehtonen. Defenseman Ron Hainsey weaved into the Atlanta zone, flicked a backhand pass to an open Fritsche before setting a half-screen near the crease.

The man-advantage tally was only the Blue Jackets’ sixth in their last 58 opportunities.

Defenseman Kris Russell hit the post on another power play later in the period.

Boll made it 2-0 early in the second period with his fourth thanks to a persistent forecheck. He dragged a loose rebound away from Jim Slater while gliding backwards and slotted a low shot from the edge of the crease just beyond the reach of Lehtonen.

Columbus continued the apply the pressure with Nikolai Zherdev clanging a shot off the left post on a power play that started at 13:16.

The teams skated to a scoreless third period with Atlanta still not generating any real scoring chances.

Notes: Nash and Kovalchuk tied Jarome Iginla for the most goals (43) in 2003-04. … Atlanta’s Slava Kozlov played in his 1,000th career NHL game. … The Blue Jackets are 13-2-4 when scoring first. …Kovalchuk, who’s scored the most goals and power play goals in the league since the 2001-02 season, played in his 165th consecutive game to set a new Thrashers franchise record.

AP-ES-12-26-07 2132EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.