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Game Day Preview

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
GAME: Atlanta Thrashers (0-8-0-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (3-6-1-0).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Toronto Maple Leafs may be struggling, but their troubles are nothing compared to those of the Atlanta Thrashers.

Toronto looks for its first winning streak of the season, while Atlanta tries for its first win in over seven months when the teams meet for the first time this season.

The Leafs looked impressive in their season-opening 6-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they went on to lose six of their next eight contests, including five of six at home.

Toronto got back on the winning track on Monday, beating the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 5-2 to snap an overall four-game winless streak and a three-game skid at Air Canada Centre.

Mats Sundin knows the Leafs had trouble with the Thrashers last year.
Graig Abel Photography
Mats Sundin, Alexander Mogilny, Robert Reichel, Nik Antropov and Alyn McCauley scored for the Leafs, who were booed in each of their first three losses of a seven-game homestand.

"We know what this city is about and the type of pressure that is here," Sundin said. "Obviously, it's nice to get the win. We have to play better."

The Thrashers went their last nine games of last season without a victory and have started 2002-03 with nine straight losses.

Atlanta hasn't won a regular season game since a 3-2 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators on March 23. It has managed only one point, earned in an overtime loss, this season after registering a league-low 54 points last season.

The Thrashers lost 4-0 to the Los Angeles Kings at home on Tuesday and are beginning a four-game road trip, one Atlanta coach Curt Fraser hopes to return from with his job.

"Yeah, I'm worried about my job," said Fraser, whose career record is 56-154-30-11. "I'd like to be 6-3 and riding high, but we're not. It's up to me to figure a way out of this mess. Hopefully, we'll get the ship righted quickly."

STANDINGS (through Oct. 29):
Thrashers - 1 point, 5th place, 13 PB, Southeast Division.
Maple Leafs - 7 points, 4th place (tied), 5 PB, Northeast Division.

Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 6 goals; Slava Kozlov, 8 assists and 10 points; Francis Lessard, 25 PIM.
Maple Leafs - Mogilny and Sundin, 5 goals, 9 assists and 14 points; Five with 12 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 29):
Thrashers - Power play: 20.8 percent (11 for 53), 4th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (51 for 59), 8th.
Maple Leafs - Power play: 18.6 percent (11 for 59), 11th. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (52 for 62), 12th (tied).

Thrashers - Milan Hnilicka (0-8-0, 4.10 GAA); Pasi Nurminen (0-1-0, 5.22).
Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (2-3-1, 1 SO, 2.48); Trevor Kidd (1-3-0, 3.78).

2001-02 SEASON SERIES: 2-2.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 11; Maple Leafs, 5-4. At Toronto, Sundin scored the tying goal and Tomas Kaberle scored twice -- including the go-ahead goal with 4:27 remaining -- as the Leafs rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Thrashers - 0-5-0-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 2-5-0-0 at home.
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