for this game

Maple Leafs snap four-game skid with win over Thrashers

Nov 30, 2007 - 4:13 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Maybe the puck finally has started bouncing the Toronto Maple Leafs' way.

Defenseman Andrew Wozniewski opened the scoring with a bizarre goal and Vesa Toskala turned aside 18 shots to give the Maple Leafs a 4-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday.

Wozniewski's wide-angle shot from the left faceoff circle deflected off Atlanta defenseman Niclas Havelid and bounced off the glass behind the net. The puck took a fortuitous bounce toward the top of the net, where it was partially deflected by goaltender Johan Hedberg's blocker.

But Hedberg's move altered the puck's direction, and it trickled down the middle of the top of the net, off his back and in for a 1-0 lead.

"I don't think there was anything pretty about the first goal," Toronto's Matt Stajan said. "But it was nice to get a first one like that."

Hedberg claimed the puck was hit with a high stick and should not have counted.

"For me, it was a high stick, when (Nik) Antropov knocked it over the net," Hedberg said. "He (hit) it with the stick. I was waiting for the high-stick (call)."

The lucky goal at 14:10 of the first period provided a long-needed boost for the hard-luck Maple Leafs, who had lost four straight and seven of eight entering Thursday and lead the league with six overtime losses.

"We came out ready to play," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "We had to win this game to get a good feeling, and hopefully, we can build on this one."

"I thought we came out strong," Toronto captain Mats Sundin added. "We got the lead and played solid for most of the night."

From there, Toronto rolled.

Kyle Wellwood found Alex Steen, who blasted a slap shot from the right faceoff circle past Hedberg to give the Maple Leafs a 2-0 edge with 3.6 seconds remaining in the first. Hedberg partially stopped the puck with his left pad before it trickled over his leg and into the net.

"The second goal was a backbreaker," Thrashers interim coach Don Waddell said. "You can't give up that goal in the last few seconds of a period."

Sundin followed with his 13th goal of the season, beating Hedberg with a pretty backhander from the left circle with 4:42 left in the second period.

"It was a 3-on-2 (break)," Sundin said. "(Antropov) managed to find a hole between him and me. It was a great shot."

"Sundin made a good play on the goal," Hedberg admitted. "They dropped it back and he shot it through another guy. We had a few unlucky breaks tonight, but that's how it goes."

Another turnover by Atlanta at Toronto's blue line led to the Maple Leafs' fourth goal of the night, as Boyd Devereaux led a 3-on-2 rush down the ice and fed Stajan, whose one-timer from above the left circle beat Hedberg 6:04 into the third period.

"All the goals except for the first one can be traced back to a mistake in the neutral zone," Waddell said. "The good thing is, these are things we can fix."

Entering Thursday, the Maple Leafs had struggled against the Thrashers, losing four straight and trailing in the all-time series, 16-7-3.

"I think we have put a lot of pressure on ourselves," Steen said. "We need to start turning this thing around. We want to be a playoff team and want to play good hockey. We're going to try to get a winning streak started."

Toskala made sure the futility ended, stopping five shots in the first, seven in the second and six in the third en route to his seventh victory of the season.

Conversely, the Thrashers - who had won 10 of 15 since capturing their second game of the season against the Maple Leafs on October 23 - have been struggling of late.

The high-flying club, which boasts superstar forwards Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa, was outscored by the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins by a combined 8-0 margin over the previous two games.

Opposing clubs netted 11 unanswered goals and shut out Atlanta for seven consecutive periods before Kovalchuk, the NHL's leading goal-scorer, tallied his 20th of the season on a wrister from above the left circle with 3:40 left in the second period.

The tally cut the deficit to 3-1 and snapped a streak of offensive futility that lasted 166 minutes, 32 seconds.

"We win as a team, we lose as a team," Thrashers captain Bobby Holik said. "Tonight was not our best team effort. We don't just expect Kovalchuk to score. We expect all of us to score."

Hedberg stopped 21 shots en route to his second straight loss.

Rookie defenseman Tobias Enstrom added a power-play goal in the third period for Atlanta, which was outshot, 25-20.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 1 1 4
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - ANDY WOZNIEWSKI 2 (JASON BLAKE, NIK ANTROPOV) 14:40
    TOR - ALEX STEEN 4 (KYLE WELLWOOD, HAL GILL) 19:56
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATS SUNDIN 13 (NIK ANTROPOV, MARK BELL) 15:18
    ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 20 (NICLAS HAVELID) 16:20

    Nov 29 9:33 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - (PP) TOBIAS ENSTROM 3 (MARIAN HOSSA, DARREN HAYDAR)
    12:33

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 9:22 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 5 (BOYD DEVEREAUX, HAL GILL) 6:04

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 9:10 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 1 3
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - ANDY WOZNIEWSKI 2 (JASON BLAKE, NIK ANTROPOV) 14:40
    TOR - ALEX STEEN 4 (KYLE WELLWOOD, HAL GILL) 19:56
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATS SUNDIN 13 (NIK ANTROPOV, MARK BELL) 15:18
    ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 20 (NICLAS H

    Nov 29 8:42 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - ILYA KOVALCHUK 20 (NICLAS HAVELID) 16:20

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    ATLANTA 0
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATS SUNDIN 13 (NIK ANTROPOV, MARK BELL) 15:18

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 8:33 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 2
    ATLANTA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 10 (ANDY WOZNIEWSKI, MATT STAJAN) 14:40
    TOR - ALEX STEEN 4 (KYLE WELLWOOD, HAL GILL) 19:56
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 9 9
    ATL

    Nov 29 7:50 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - ALEX STEEN 4 (KYLE WELLWOOD, HAL GILL) 19:56

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 7:49 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 10 (ANDY WOZNIEWSKI, MATT STAJAN) 14:40

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 7:38 PM
  • 5
    roots
    jemurray Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs vs. ThrashersNov 29 11:05 AM