Thrashers-Maple Leafs Preview

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to struggle to score. They

might want to take a lesson from the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Thrashers look to carry the momentum from their highest

scoring output of the season Monday when they visit the Maple

Leafs.

Eric Boulton’s first hat trick in his 10-year career highlighted

Atlanta’s 7-1 rout of New Jersey on Saturday night.

The Thrashers (18-11-5) improved to 11-2-2 in their last 15

games. After finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference with 83

points in 2009-10, Atlanta is jockeying for the Southeast Division

lead as the season nears its midpoint.

“Our goal is to be in first place,” Boulton said. “We need to

keep moving here and building points.”

The Thrashers have outscored the opposition by 25 goals during

their 15-game hot streak.

“It’s about expecting to win,” said Thrashers coach Craig

Ramsay. “It’s a long season, but our players now go into games

expecting to win, they expect to play well and they’re pushing each

other to participate.

“We’re getting goals from all our lines, play from all our

lines, so everybody feels a part of it.”

Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane each tallied their 11th goal of the

season, matching Dustin Byfuglien for the team lead. Kane also had

an assist, giving him four points in his last two games.

Ondrej Pavelec made 26 saves Saturday and improved to 10-2-1

with a 1.44 goals-against average over his last 13 games. His 1.76

GAA on the season is the second-lowest in the league.

Nik Antropov, who had an assist versus the Devils, spent

eight-plus years with the Leafs and had a goal and an assist in the

last meeting with his former team, a 3-2 Thrashers road victory

March 30.

Toronto (12-16-4), which ranks 28th in the NHL with 2.19 goals

per game, fell to 1-15-2 when scoring two or fewer after its 4-1

loss in Vancouver on Saturday night.

“At the end of the day only one line scored again,” Leafs coach

Ron Wilson said. “Other guys have got to do what they are paid to

do which is score.”

Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves but fell to 1-5-1 with a 3.71 GAA

in his last seven starts. He is likely to remain in goal Monday, as

Jean-Sebastien Giguere is sidelined indefinitely with a groin

injury.

Gustavsson is 1-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA against Atlanta.

Mikhail Grabovski provided Toronto’s only offense Saturday. He’s

scored a goal in three straight games, and has six in his last

seven contests.

“He’s easily our best player (right now) and he works probably

the hardest at practice,” Wilson said. “All the work he’s put in

shooting the puck before and after practice is really starting to

payoff.”

Phil Kessel, the Maple Leafs’ leader with 12 goals, failed to

record a point against the Thrashers in March – snapping a personal

six-game point streak versus Atlanta.