NHL Game Summary - Atlanta at Toronto
(Tuesday, February 7th)
Final Score: Toronto 4, Atlanta 1
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Ed Belfour made 33 saves and four different Toronto players scored, as the Maple Leafs continued their dominance over the Atlanta Thrashers with a 4-1 victory at Air Canada Centre.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood and Bryan McCabe each scored for the Maple Leafs, who have won three of their last five on the heels of an eight-game losing streak (0-7-1). Alex Steen contributed two assists in the win. Toronto improved to 4-0 against Atlanta this season and has captured seven straight in this series.
"The guys came hard and stepped up," said Belfour of his teammates. "We have to keep the pressure up now."
Marian Hossa notched the only goal for the Thrashers, who have lost eight of their last nine games. Kari Lehtonen allowed four goals on 28 shots in the losing effort.
With under seven minutes remaining in the first period, the Leafs got a bit of a scare when McCabe, their star defenseman, was pushed from behind into the rear boards by Atlanta's Serge Aubin several strides after McCabe had released the puck. McCabe was sent crashing into the wall and remained on the ice for several minutes before he was helped off by teammates.
The play resulted in both a five-minute major and a game misconduct to Aubin, but the Leafs power play was out of sync without their quarterback at the point. The best scoring chance during the span was a breakaway chance for Atlanta after a turnover by Jason Allison, but Belfour made the save.
At 13:25 of the second period, the Leafs took the lead on a breakaway goal by Ponikarovsky. Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk attempted a pass across the blue line, but it was intercepted by Ponikarovsky, who went the other way uncontested and beat Lehtonen with a backhander.
"Kovalchuk made a risky pass and I was able to get it," said Ponikarovsky.
Later in the second, the Leafs power play paved the way for a two-goal lead. Allison passed from the rear boards out to the low slot for Tucker, whose one- timer lit the lamp with 3:21 to go before the second intermission.
Hossa's 28th goal -- a power-play marker -- just 18 seconds into the final period cut the visitors' deficit in half, but Toronto regained its two-goal edge just under three minutes later.
Following a turnover in the neutral zone, Steen streaked down the right-wing side and fired a wrister from the circle. The save was made, but Wellwood, a rookie, batted the puck out of midair and past Lehtonen for his ninth goal at 3:16.
McCabe, who returned not long after his first-period injury, scored his 16th goal of the season with 2:53 to go in the contest. A flurry of shots down low were stopped by Lehtonen before McCabe corralled the disc near the bottom of the right circle. With traffic in front, McCabe's low wrist shot snuck underneath the Atlanta netminder to create the final margin.
Prior to the game, Toronto announced that its top minor league affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, will host the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic at Ricoh Coliseum...Toronto head coach Pat Quinn moved into second place on the franchise's all-time list for games coached with 547, surpassing Hap Day. The all-time leader is George "Punch" Mimlach with 760...The Leafs outscored the Thrashers 22-3 over their four games this season and were also 11-for-37 on the power play in those games...The Leafs are now 17-9-2 at home this season...Both teams ended 1-for-5 on the power play...Attendance was 19,427.
02/07 22:50:16 ET