for this game

Tucker, Sundin lift Maple Leafs over Thrashers

Oct 31, 2006 - 3:15 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs scored in rapid-fire fashion to maintain their dominance of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Darcy Tucker scored twice, defenseman Tomas Kaberle added his fourth tally and captain Mats Sundin collected three assists in the first period to lead the Maple Leafs to a 4-2 triumph over Atlanta.

Coming off Saturday's shootout victory over the Montreal Canadiens, which ended a three-game losing streak, Toronto won its eighth consecutive game against Atlanta. The Maple Leafs have outscored the Thrashers, 37-9, during that stretch.

"I thought our power play was great and the penalty killing was great, too," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "We used a bunch of different lines and we were a better defensive team tonight. I thought our defense and a number of our forwards did a great job getting in the shooting lanes."

After Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring for Atlanta with his ninth goal on a 5-on-3 power play at 8:12 of the first period, Toronto answered with three man-advantage tallies in an 86-second span.

"I think we knew that our play at home was unacceptable to date," Maple Leafs center Michael Peca said. "The power play gave us a bit of a boost there in the first period. Any time you capitalize on 5-on-3 power plays, it means a lot to your hockey team. If those opportunities get wasted, it's a bit of an emotional letdown."

The Maple Leafs took advantage of their own 5-on-3 power play when Sundin made a cross-ice centering feed to Tucker, who knocked the puck inside the right goalpost behind netminder Kari Lehtonen to tie the game.

Coming off Saturday's hat trick against the Canadiens, Kaberle put the Maple Leafs in front just 45 seconds later with a one-timer from the left faceoff circle that got between Lehtonen's pads.

"We just kept coming," Kaberle said. "Three power plays in a row was great, especially when you score all three times. Once you're leading, it's a little tougher for (Atlanta) to come back."

It took only 41 seconds for Tucker to strike again for his 17th career multi-goal game, when he tapped in a deflection of Sundin's shot from the right point for his ninth goal of the campaign and a 3-1 lead.

"It's just a stat," said Tucker, who never has had a hat trick in his 11-year career. "I didn't even know that. I guess it's just one of those things that happens. Either that or I've been really unlucky not to get a hat trick."

Sundin tied a franchise record for assists in a period by setting up three tallies in the opening session. Jeff O'Neill added his fourth goal in the third period and goaltender Andrew Raycroft made 31 saves to raise his record to 5-4-2 for Toronto.

"I felt like I made more saves Thursday (against Ottawa) and gave up seven (goals)," Raycroft said. "Obviously, you don't feel good when you give up seven goals, but at the same time, I made some pretty good saves my last time out. Tonight was one of the easier ones we've had. We didn't give up anything off the rush."

Lehtonen stopped 18 shots for the Thrashers, who suffered just their second regulation loss in 13 games this season.

"Toronto has so many skilled guys, especially Sundin," Lehtonen said. "I was so amazed at how he can pass the puck so quickly. He caught me a couple of times kind of waiting there and that's why they got the goals."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!