It came down to a showdown between a gifted scorer and a likely Hall of Fame-bound goalie.

Martin Brodeur made a glove save on Ilya Kovalchuk in the shootout and the New Jersey Devils beat the visiting Atlanta Thrashers, 3-2, for their seventh straight victory yesterday.

New Jersey's Brian Gionta had the only goal in the shootout. After he beat Johan Hedberg with a backhander, Kovalchuk squared off against Brodeur.

Brodeur, who had 23 saves in regulation and overtime, snared the puck after Kovalchuk tried to maneuver him out of position.

"He's a good goalie, one of the best ever," Kovalchuk said. "You need to be real good and real sharp to beat that guy. He moves quick from post to post so I tried to go high."

"I just wanted to stay with him as long as I could, while he was going across the crease," Brodeur said.

In contrast, Gionta beat Hedberg with a speed move, going right at the netminder.

"At the blue line, I saw he had come way out on me," Gionta said. "I tried picking up a little more speed to beat him back to the net."

In regulation, Sergei Brylin and John Madden had New Jersey's goals, while Todd White and Kovalchuk scored for Atlanta, which lost its fourth in five games.

In other games:

* At St. Paul, Minn., Aaron Voros and Eric Belanger scored to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, the fourth straight win for Minnesota, which moved into first place in the Northwest.

Mike Brown scored for Vancouver, which lost in regulation for just the second time in 13 games to fall two points behind the Wild. The shutout streak of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo ended at 210 minutes, 34 seconds.

* At Anaheim, Mathieu Garon made 25 saves as the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Ducks, 4-0. The Oilers outscored the Stanley Cup champions 9-1 in wins Friday and last night.


* The Avalanche have recalled forward Brad Richardson from Lake Erie, of the AHL, and placed defenseman Kurt Sauer on injured reserve with a neck injury suffered at San Jose on Friday. *