Thrashers beat Leafs, move into first place
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:07 AM
Hello, first place.
Tobias Enstrom had two goals and two assists as the Atlanta Thrashers
moved into first in the Southeast Division with a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs
at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night.
Freddy Modin added two goals against his former team, while Anthony Stewart and Andrew Ladd, into an empty net, also scored.
Atlanta (19-11-5), which moved ahead of the idle Washington Capitals, has now picked up at least a point in 14 of its past 16 contests.
"Our feeling in the dressing room is that everyone's involved in the offense," Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said. "Everybody has to be involved in the offense. We don't designate a scorer, we don't designate checkers. We expect everybody to participate, and that's what we're getting."
scored four the fourth game in a row as part of a brief third-period Leafs rally that ultimately fell short.
John Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin
also scored for Toronto (12-17-4).
The Leafs were back on home ice after a three-game swing through Western Canada in which they dropped the last two games to Calgary and Vancouver.
The return to the Air Canada Centre did little to reverse the their fortunes as the Leafs found themselves in a two-goal hole before the game was three minutes old. By the final period, fans were calling for the coach's head.
Despite the fast start for the visitors, the game remained close through the halfway point, with Mitchell scoring his first of the season on a second-period Toronto power play to cut the lead to 2-1. But Modin's second of the game came with just 56 seconds remaining in the middle frame, restoring the two-goal lead.
A turnover by Kulemin led to Stewart's goal just over three minutes into the third and Enstrom picked up his second less than a minute later when a weak shot from the point eluded Jonas Gustavsson
"We're rolling four lines," Stewart said. "You make a mistake, you're going to be right back out there to correct yourself."
Enstrom's tally led to coach Ron Wilson pulling Gustavsson, who was beaten five times on 18 shots, in favor of James Reimer
. The rookie stopped all four shots he faced in the first action of his NHL career.
"We just need better starts," said Leafs forward Kris Versteeg. "That's pretty much it. There's no secret."
The Leafs provided a brief glimmer of hope when Grabovski and Kulemin scored power play goals on Ondrej Pavelec just 15 seconds apart, but the comeback attempt ended with Ladd's salted empty-netter.
Pavelec stopped 37 shots.
"We actually could have tied the game up, believe it or not," Wilson said. "It wasn't looking good, but the two quick power play goals and, I don't know, six or seven unbelievable chances after that that we didn't finish. If we had one more with two or three minutes left I think we would have tied the game."
Modin opened the scoring when he was left all alone in front of Gustavsson, allowing him to tip home Ron Hainsey's point shot.
The Thrashers' second goal came just 28 seconds later and was a power-play marker courtesy of Enstrom, who blasted home a cross-ice pass from Dustin Byfuglien on the blue line.
Byfuglien ended the game with a pair of assists, giving him 35 points on the season. After being moved to defense from forward following an off-season from Chicago, Byfuglien leads all NHL blue-liners in scoring and is just one point off his single-season best.
"Everyone has confidence in each other," Byfuglien said. "The 'D' core's been great. The more you play, the more comfortable you are and the more confidence you have in everybody."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.