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
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
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
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
“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
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.