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Kulemin, Maple Leafs beat Atlanta 9-3

Jan 8, 2011 - 3:52 AM
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Nikolai Kulemin tallied two goals and two assists, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski both notched two goals and an assist, and Toronto rallied for nine straight goals to embarrass Atlanta, 9-3.

Kris Versteeg had a goal and two assists in the Maple Leafs' biggest offensive output of the season.

Colby Armstrong and Phil Kessel both had a goal and an assist for Toronto, which has won three of its last four games. Tomas Kaberle had four helpers and James Reimer made 41 saves in the lopsided win.

Patrice Cormier scored his first career NHL goal for the Thrashers, who had a two-game win streak halted. Tobias Enstrom and Andrew Ladd also potted goals.

Ondrej Pavelec started the game but did not finish as he gave up five goals on 24 shots. Chris Mason came in and turned away just 6-of-10 shots.

"Things happen -- it was embarrassing to the fans," Pavelec said. "We try to get the fans to buy the tickets and we show them this one. We took the day off. It's embarrassing for our fans but tomorrow's another day."

Enstrom put the Thrashers on the board first just 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Ben Eager threw a cross-ice pass at the top of the zone to Enstrom, who brought the puck into the left circle and fired a shot past Reimer.

But it was all Toronto the rest of the way.

The Leafs tied the game after a defensive zone faceoff win nearing the midway point of the first. Carl Gunnarsson moved the disc out of his own zone and got it to Armstrong. He then sent a quick pass to Versteeg, who was off to the races and wristed it under the pads of Pavelec.

The lead and momentum swayed to Toronto, thanks to Eager's double minor penalties at the 13:52 mark. During the man advantage, Kessel ripped a shot that bounced off the Thrashers netminder's left pad. Grabovski picked up the rebound in the left slot and wristed it just past the nearside post to make it a 2-1 game.

Toronto made it a two-goal cushion just over 12 minutes into the second when Versteeg scurried up the right boards and centered the puck to a streaking Armstrong, who sent it home. Kulemin made it a 4-1 game 79 seconds later with a wrister that found the back of the net.

The light kept flashing for the Leafs when they ballooned their lead to four with 4:45 left to play in the middle frame on Grabovski's second goal of the game.

The high-scoring period sent Pavelec to the bench in favor for Mason, who finished out the rest of the contest, and created an adverse reaction from the Thrashers.

Eager was handed a match penalty after sucker punching Armstrong during a scuffle with three minutes left in the period. The Leafs made good use of the man advantage, cashing in four times.

MacAurthur scored two of the goals while Kulemin notched the other to finish off the six-goal period by the visitors. Kessel added the final tally of the power play barrage just 1:32 into the third period.

"He took a bad penalty." Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said of Eager. "It was uncalled for and we managed to take advantage of it. Both games now against Atlanta our power plays have worked really well. We were persistent all night long when we needed to be."

Cormier and Ladd each notched a goal in the final period for the Thrashers to account for the final score.

Game Notes

Atlanta has lost four of its last six home games and is 11-8-3 as the host this season. Toronto is 5-1-1 in their last seven visits to Atlanta...Toronto was 5-for-7 on the power play, while Atlanta was 0-for-4.