for this game

Pogge, Ponikarovsky help Maple Leafs top Thrashers

Dec 23, 2008 - 4:06 AM
By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The future was now for Justin Pogge. And if Monday is any indication, the future may be bright for the imposing netminder.

Pogge turned aside 19 shots in his NHL debut and Matt Stajan scored two goals and set up another, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 6-2 rout of the listless Atlanta Thrashers.

Alexei Ponikarovsky made things easy for Pogge by recording a tally 59 seconds into the contest and Jeremy Williams added a goal nearly 10 minutes later for Toronto, which improved to 5-1-0 over its last six games.

"It was a huge win," Pogge said. "First start, I was glad the guys kept scoring. I was pretty nervous before they dropped the puck. I was just glad I got this one over with."

The Maple Leafs turned to Pogge after starting goaltender Vesa Toskala was sidelined with a groin injury in Saturday's 7-3 triumph the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on Sunday, the 22-year-old arrived in this Southern hockey town anonymously, carrying his equipment through Atlanta's gigantic Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

A 6-3, 204-pounder, Pogge was installed in place of the ineffective Curtis Joseph and got the job done in his first career start, making a few highlight reel saves along the way.

"We played really well in front of him," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "But he made three or four saves that would have given lots of momentum to (Atlanta). It was nice to see Justin play as well as he did."

Of course, it helped that Pogge was facing the lowly Thrashers, who have just one win here in their last nine games.

Ponikarovsky gave the rookie an early cushion, chipping a rebound from the slot past Atlanta netminder Kari Lehtonen less than one minute into the contest.

Toronto extended the advantage to 2-0 midway through the first period when Dominic Moore slid the puck from behind the net to Williams, who buried a wrister into the top right side of the net.

The lead reached 3-0 with 2:24 left the middle period with a pretty goal by Stajan. Nik Antropov slid the puck from the right faceoff circle to Stajan, who slid the puck past Lehtonen in the slot.

"It's a play we work pretty good off of each other," Stajan said of the goal. "I went to the net. It was a great pass by Nik."

Dominic Moore and Niklas Hagman added third-period goals before Stajan capped the scoring with an empty-net tally with 75 seconds left for Toronto, which has not lost in Atlanta since March 29, 2007.

"Hopefully, we can keep this going past Christmas," Stajan said of his team's recent surge. "I think we are surprising a lot of people. We know we can play with any team."

Two days after setting aside a team-record 23 shots in the third period of Atlanta's 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lehtonen was peppered once again by the opposition.

"We got a rookie goalie playing against us and we fire (six) shots at him (in the first)," Anderson said. "Our goalie is coming off an injury and takes 18. That tells me we are not ready to compete."

Atlanta stuck to the same tried-and-true, yet failed blueprint, allowing an early goal at home. The club has allowed at least one goal in their opponents' first three shots on net in their last four home games.

"I have to be sharper in the beginning," said Lehtonen, who was in net for two of those games. "I let in two goals pretty quickly, and that's not good."

In all, the 25-year-old Lehtonen allowed five goals on 37 shots.

"I don't think we played very well tonight," Lehtonen said. "I think we got outplayed in every aspect of the game - defense, forwards and goalies. We can't expect to win anything (that way)."

Colby Armstrong and Todd White found the net for the woeful Thrashers, who fell to 3-8-2 over their last 13 games.






  • MattDOOM777 Whoop!

    Maple Leafs 6, Thrashers 2  FinalDec 23 1:53 AM
  • 10
    roots
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs 6, Thrashers 2  FinalDec 23 1:52 AM
  • 5
    roots
    McTool Added 5 roots

    Maple Leafs 6, Thrashers 2  FinalDec 22 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 2 1 3 6
    ATLANTA 0 1 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY 11 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATT STAJAN)
    0:59
    TOR - JEREMY WILLIAMS 5 (DOMINIC MOORE, JASON BLAKE) 10:43
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    17:36
    ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 8

    Dec 22 9:32 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 6
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: TOR - (EN) MATT STAJAN 9 (NIK ANTROPOV, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    18:45

    Maple Leafs 6, Thrashers 2  3rd - 1:15Dec 22 9:31 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 5
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: TOR - NIKLAS HAGMAN 10 (JOHN MITCHELL) 15:36

    Maple Leafs 5, Thrashers 2  3rd - 4:24Dec 22 9:23 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    ATLANTA 2
    3RD PRD: ATL - TODD WHITE 11 (VYACHESLAV KOZLOV, NICLAS HAVELID) 14:14

    Maple Leafs 4, Thrashers 2  3rd - 5:46Dec 22 9:20 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 4
    ATLANTA 1
    3RD PRD: TOR - (PP) DOMINIC MOORE 7 (PAVEL KUBINA, JEREMY WILLIAMS)
    10:06

    Maple Leafs 4, Thrashers 1  3rd - 9:54Dec 22 9:13 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 - ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY 11 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATT STAJAN)
    0:59
    TOR - JEREMY WILLIAMS 5 (DOMINIC MOORE, JASON BLAKE) 10:43
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY)
    17:36
    ATL - COLB

    Dec 22 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    ATLANTA 1
    2ND PRD: ATL - COLBY ARMSTRONG 8 (JASON WILLIAMS, BORIS VALABIK) 19:51

    Maple Leafs 3, Thrashers 1  2nd - 0:09Dec 22 8:36 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    ATLANTA 0
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATT STAJAN 8 (NIK ANTROPOV, ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY) 17:36

    Maple Leafs 3, Thrashers 0  2nd - 2:24Dec 22 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 - ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY 11 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATT STAJAN)
    0:59
    TOR - JEREMY WILLIAMS 5 (DOMINIC MOORE, JASON BLAKE) 10:43
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 18

    Dec 22 7:45 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - JEREMY WILLIAMS 5 (DOMINIC MOORE, JASON BLAKE) 10:43

    Maple Leafs 2, Thrashers 0  1st - 9:17Dec 22 7:26 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    ATLANTA 0
    1ST PRD: TOR - ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY 11 (NIK ANTROPOV, MATT STAJAN) 0:59

    Maple Leafs 1, Thrashers 0  1st - 19:01Dec 22 7:11 PM