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Leafs turn tables on Thrashers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Mats Sundin essentially decided this game when he won the opening faceoff.

Sundin recorded an assist on Jonas Hoglund's goal just 15 seconds into the game and Curtis Joseph posted his fourth shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

The Maple Leafs entered the game without second-leading scorer Alexander Mogilny, who suffered a back injury in Tuesday's win over San Jose. Toronto had been winless in three games without Mogilny earlier this season but had no trouble with struggling Atlanta.
Curtis Joseph picked up his third shutout of the season.

Sundin won the opening face-off went straight to Hoglund, who skated to the edge of the right face-off circle and backhanded a wrister between the post and Milan Hnilicka's right leg.

It was Toronto's quickest goal of the season and a record for a Thrashers' opponent.

"That early goal I wouldn't call fluky, but it made a difference," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "Every time we've played this team, they've held an edge against us. That is the first time we've had that sort of break against this club."

"You know, the game is a lot about momentum and swings," Joseph said. "To get that goal early was very important for us. We weren't really on a hot streak and we were able to win against a team we haven't done too well against."

That was all the Maple Leafs needed behind Joseph, who had to stop just 15 shots en route to his 36th career shutout.

Gary Roberts scored from the high slot with 6:33 left in the period, beating Hnilicka just inside the right post. Shayne Corson extended the lead just 1:53 later, scoring off a scramble in front of the net.

"That first goal seemed to tick (Hnilicka) off a bit," Quinn said. "He bobbled the next few shots and pretty soon it was 3-0."

"Once we get a few goals like that, it helps our confidence," Joseph said. "I think we played with a lot of confidence tonight and the goal cushion helped."

Atlanta was forced to remove Hnilicka at 15:20 for rookie Pasi Nurminen, who made his NHL debut. Hnilicka had two of his 11 victories against the Leafs this season.

"We got some breaks tonight, Hnilicka didn't stand on his head tonight like he has before against us," Toronto defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "We've been kind of robbed in the past. This is good going into the break."

Nurminen allowed Sundin's seventh power-play goal and a shorthanded goal to Jyrki Lumme in the second period. Darcy Tucker tallied off an assist from Corson 8:17 into the third period as the Maple Leafs posted their most lospided victory of the season.

Toronto outshot Atlanta, 40-17, including a 29-11 edge through the two periods. The Maple Leafs won for just the third time in 10 games while the Thrashers fell to 1-2-0-1 in their last four.

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