It was a night of firsts for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Damian Rhodes stopped 20 shots as the expansion Thrashers beat the host New York Islanders, 2-0, last night for their first victory and first shutout in franchise history.

"To come in here and steal one is terrific," Coach Curt Fraser said. "It was a good win for our club."

Andrew Brunette scored a power-play goal and captain Kelly Buchberger had the other goal as the Thrashers made their NHL regular season road debut. Atlanta opened with three straight home games, losing to New Jersey and Detroit and tying Buffalo.

"Rhodes was sharp," Fraser said. "From the first day of training camp, he's probably been our hardest worker, always wanting to improve."

Rhodes was jumping around on the ice when the final horn blew.

"The win was the chocolate sundae," he said. "The shutout was the cherry on top."

Felix Potvin stopped 26 shots for the Islanders, who played before a turnstile-count crowd of 3,062. The team announced 5,219 tickets were sold for the game at Nassau Coliseum, which holds 16,297.

Brunette's second goal of the season gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead at 10 minutes 46 seconds. Potvin stopped Darryl Shannon's shot from the point shot, but Brunette picked up the rebound and shot the puck over Potvin's glove.

The Islanders' penalty killing got better in the second period, as they killed off three straight penalties, and five of six overall in the contest.

Buchberger put the Thrashers up 2-0 on a disputed goal at 6:53 of the final period. Buchberger took rookie Patrik Stefan's pass and whipped a shot from the left side into the far corner. There was a dispute over what appeared to be a missed offsides call.

Islanders Coach Butch Goring said the officials blew the call, but Buchberger disagreed.

"Nobody blew a whistle, so I just kept going," Buchberger said. "Patty gave me a great pass, and I just fired it. I think I caught [Potvin] a bit off guard, but we'll take it."

* CANADIENS 5, FLYERS 4: Brian Savage scored his third goal of the game with 1:38 left in overtime as visiting Montreal sent the Flyers to their worst five-game start in franchise history.

Saku Koivu intercepted Eric Desjardins's pass intended for Eric Lindros and fed Savage, who rushed on rookie defenseman Mark Eaton and rookie goaltender Brian Boucher. Savage's shot went off the post and bounced off Boucher for his sixth goal of the season.

John LeClair had two goals and an assist for his first three points of the year, and Lindros had a goal and two assists. But Boucher allowed three goals between his legs, one under his right arm and then the ugly game-winner on Montreal's 22nd shot of the game.

The Flyers blew a two-goal, second-period lead for their first 0-4-1 start in franchise history.

* PENGUINS 5, RANGERS 2: Visiting Pittsburgh scored on three of its first eight shots and backup goalie Peter Skudra made 28 saves.

Alexei Kovalev, Ian Moran and Robert Lang scored in the game's first 13 minutes, chasing Kirk McLean, and the Penguins went on to stop the Rangers' winning streak at three.

Milan Hnilicka replaced McLean and didn't fare much better in his first NHL appearance, giving up goals to Jaromir Jagr and Rob Brown before McLean came back to start the third period.

"We were a real poor starting team over the last two games, so we were trying to get off to a better start, not dig ourselves a hole," Penguins Coach Kevin Constantine said. "We were fortunate we did that tonight."

* SHARKS 5, PREDATORS 1: In Nashville, Steve Shields stopped 51 shots and set a San Jose record for the longest scoreless streak. Shields stopped 37 shots during the first two periods before Patric Kjellberg ended the streak at 141:46 when he pushed the puck in at 1:18 of the third.

"Someone called and said if Boston pitched Pedro Martinez every game, they'd win every one," San Jose Coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's how I feel about Steve Shields."

Shields didn't allow a goal in his two previous games, stopping 26 in relief against Anaheim on Monday and 35 in a 2-0 win over Dallas on Wednesday.

His scoreless streak topped Mike Vernon's team record of 130:55, set in 1998.

CAPTION: Rangers' Kevin Stevens (17) is hindered by Andrew Ference, right, as he prepares to shoot on goalie Peter Skudra during the Penguins' 5-2 victory.