Clarke MacArthur didn’t want the game to end. He was having too much fun.
”It was one of those games when every shot is going in,” he said after the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 9-3 rout of the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. ”Everything worked against them.”
Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and MacArthur each scored two goals to power the offense.
Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong and Phil Kessel added goals for the Maple Leafs, who scored nine straight — including six in the second period — for their second straight win overall and third consecutive on the road.
”For them, it was like quicksand,” said MacArthur, who played 21 games for Atlanta last season. ”The harder they tried, the worse it got.”
James Reimer made 41 saves for the Maple Leafs, who had six goals in a span of 7:43 of the second period. Toronto had a 2-1 lead before the offensive barrage started with Armstrong’s goal at 12:06.
”That was one of the best second periods I’ve ever seen,” Reimer said. ”I’m not sure how it happened.”
Tobias Enstrom gave the Thrashers a 1-0 lead early in the first period before Atlanta’s defense collapsed.
Ben Eager didn’t help matters. The defenseman’s four penalty minutes for roughing and cross-checking led to a power-play goal by Grabovski, his 16th overall this season, that gave Toronto a 2-1 lead.
Late in the second period, Eager was ejected and given a match penalty for intent to injure Armstrong, a former Thrashers forward. That led to a power-play goal by Kulemin, two by MacArthur and another by Kessel.
Eager appeared to retaliate for Armstrong’s hit on Bryan Little a few seconds earlier, but he might have been trying to avenge Armstrong’s clean hit against Rich Peverley’s knee in the first.
”We don’t condone anything,” Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said of Eager’s performance. ”We want our players to play hard. We want them to play physical with body checks and fight for the puck. We can’t condone that.”
Less than three minutes in, Atlanta’s Eric Boulton and Toronto’s Colton Orr had the first fight of the game.
Maple Leafs forward Joey Crabb served a double high-sticking penalty after he drew blood from Dustin Byfuglien’s face. The Thrashers defenseman returned to the game.
Patrice Cormier and Andrew Ladd added third-period goals for Atlanta, cutting the deficit to 9-3.
Grabovski’s 17th goal made it 5-1 at 15:15 of the second. He’s scored 12 times in 14 games and has recorded a point in five of six.
”Once it got to 5-1, things kind of got away on the penalty kill,” Thrashers defenseman Ron Hainsey said. ”We weren’t able to do the job, and that’s disappointing because our PK has been really good for the better part of two months.”
Toronto was trying for its first 10-goal game since Jan. 4, 2007, when the Maple Leafs won 10-2 at Boston. The Maple Leafs have scored at least 10 goals 35 times.
Versteeg started the onslaught when his 12th goal, a wrister from the right circle, lifted Toronto into a 1-1 tie 9:43 in.
Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec played into the second before being replaced by Chris Mason, who was pulled later in the period. Mason played the entire third period and finished with six saves on 10 shots.
”That was unbelievable,” MacArthur said after of Atlanta’s three goalie changes. ”I feel bad for their goalies. I don’t know if some of the shots were screened or not.”
Pavelec (15-9-4), began the game ranked second in the NHL in save percentage, but he had a rough night, stopping 19 of 24 shots.
”We were embarrassed, but there’s another day,” Pavelec said. ”We gave it to them. We paid a price. Everything went wrong.”
NOTES: Toronto D Tomas Kaberle had four assists. … The Maple Leafs improved to 13-5-2 at Philips Arena. … Atlanta LW Evander Kane missed the game because of a lower body injury.