Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice and had an assist to help the
Maple Leafs beat the Thrashers 5-1 for their season-high fourth
Bryan McCabe added a goal and two assists for the Maple Leafs,
who also beat Atlanta 9-1 in a fight-filled rout on Oct. 14.
Saturday night's game featured a lengthy bout between Toronto's
Wade Belak and Atlanta's Eric Boulton, but no other fights. The
Maple Leafs accused Atlanta's Bob Hartley of "goon coaching"
after the 9-1 thrashing in Atlanta.
"It was embarrassing up in our own rink, so we wanted to come
out and have a good game, but we came out flat," Atlanta's Marc
Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, who were
tired after winning an overtime in Philadelphia on Friday night.
"I don't know what was left after last night's game but it's
still an unacceptable effort," Hartley said.
Michael Garnett replaced rookie Adam Berkhoel in goal after
Berkhoel allowed four goals on 17 shots -- three of them high wrist
shots. Berkhoel also struggled in his last start, allowing seven
goals in Atlanta's 7-3 home loss to the New York Islanders on
Toronto outshot Atlanta 13-2 in the first period and scored
three goals. Alexander Steen beat Berkhoel with a wrist shot into
the top right hand corner just 50 seconds into the game.
"We've had a good week," said Steen, whose team didn't need
their power play against Atlanta. "Scoring five-on-five is real
key to winning hockey games too. We showed that tonight."
McCabe's high wrist shot from in front of the net beat Berkhoel
at 7:07 of the first, and a sprawled Berkhoel allowed Nik
Antropov's weak shot to trickle under his glove for Toronto's third
goal at 16:40 of the first.
Kovalchuk cut it to 3-1 on the power play late in the first, but
Ponikarovsky put a high wrister past Berkhoel at 4:22 the second.
Ponikarovsky made it 5-1 at 9:49 of the second with a shot from
the side of the net.
"I didn't score a hat trick, but it feels good to score a
couple of goals," Ponikarovsky said.
McCabe leads NHL defenseman with nine goals and 30 points.
... Toronto's Darcy Tucker played despite nursing a charley horse.
... In the last 15 games, Kovalchuk has 14 goals and 13 assists.
... It was Garnett's second NHL appearance since Oct. 20. Garnett
is one of five goalies used by the injury-plagued Thrashers this
season. He was recalled from Chicago of the AHL on Tuesday.