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Allison, McCabe, O'Neill Thrash Thrashers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


ATLANTA (CP) -- Jeff O'Neill scored three goals and one assist and Bryan McCabe added four assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs hammered Atlanta 9-1 on Friday in a game marred by several dirty hits by the Thrashers.

O'Neill's third career hat trick was the first by a Leafs player since 2002, but it was quickly overshadowed when Atlanta took several questionable penalties in the third period.

With the Leafs leading 6-1, Andy Sutton drew an attempt to injure penalty when he threw Darcy Tucker face-first into the end boards behind the play.

Tucker was cut for "10 to 12'' stitches above his left eye, according to Leafs coach Pat Quinn.

"They were head-hunting,'' an irate Quinn said afterwards. "There should be no place in the game for that.

"It's a bloody disgrace.''

Jason Allison, Kyle Wellwood, Eric Lindros, Alex Steen and Alex Ponikarovsky also had goals for the Maple Leafs (2-1-2), who scored seven times on the power play.

Marc Savard had the lone goal in reply for Atlanta (2-3-0).

Toronto spent most of the third period with a man advantage. Play was halted midway through third when a fight broke out between Lindros and Niclas Havelid, among others. When play resumed, another brawl was touched off after Tucker, who had three assists in addition to his goal, was hit by Sutton.

Atlanta's Patrik Stefan later cut Nik Antropov when he took him out with a dirty hit away from the play.

"That kind of stuff is just garbage to me,'' O'Neill said.

Several players in the Leafs dressing room criticized Thrashers coach Bob Hartley for not controlling his team better.

"Bob Hartley has always had the reputation of being a bush-league coach,'' said Leafs tough guy Tie Domi. "His true colours came out tonight.

"He doesn't have much respect throughout the league.''

The bad blood spilled over after the game when Hartley said that Toronto was just "whining'' as usual. Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. interrupted his news conference and the two exchanged heated words.

The NHL will certainly be busy reviewing several incidents from on the ice.

Mike Murphy, the NHL's vice-president of hockey operations, said they would definitely take a second look at Sutton's hit on Tucker.

"We'll review the whole incident at a quieter time,'' Murphy told Leafs TV. "When games get like this, you get that type of behaviour.

"We don't like it and it shows bad on the league.''

Toronto plays Atlanta again on Nov. 19 at the Air Canada Centre.

Friday's game matched Toronto's 40-year-old goalie Ed Belfour against the 22-year-old Garnett, making his first NHL start. Garnett made his first appearance Wednesday night in a 2-0 loss to Montreal after Mike Dunham injured his groin.

The Thrashers were also without No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is on the injured list with a more serious groin injury. Lehtonen has missed four games.

Belfour had allowed five goals in each of his previous two games, but he stopped 20 Atlanta shots.

Garnett finished with 25 saves.

Notes: Ilya Kovalchuk played in his second game since re-signing with the Thrashers, but is still scoreless on the season ... Toronto was 3-0-0-1 against Atlanta in the 2003-04 season. 

Photo by D. Sanford, Getty Images

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