LEAFS (15-20-4) at THRASHERS (22-15-6)
TV -- SNET-Ontario (HD), SPORTSOUTH (HD)
-- Toronto 4-6-0; Atlanta 5-4-1
-- The two Eastern Conference foes meet for the second of four times this season. The Thrashers had their way with the Leafs in the first meeting, coming away with a 6-3 victory in Toronto on Dec. 20. Defenseman Tobias Enstrom scored twice and added a pair of assists for the Thrashers.
-- The Thrashers look to extend their winning streak to three games, while the Leafs look to begin one of their own after beating St. Louis 6-5 in a shootout on Thursday night.
-- After winning two out of three to begin 2011, the Leafs begin a four-game road trip against the Thrashers before playing three games against Western Conference teams.
They hope to carry the momentum from the 6-5 win against the Blues – but they also need to put together complete games after blowing a 5-2 third-period lead before winning the shootout.
“It was important for us to get a win today, but we need to get better,” forward Phil Kessel
said. “We had a 5-2 lead and we didn’t play well there. We need to bear down more and get our game in shape.”
-- The Thrashers will be returning home for a brief stint against the Leafs after defeating Montreal and Florida to start the new year. The strong recent play has
helped Atlanta’s push for Southeast Division supremacy behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals. Led by Dustin Byfuglien, the scoring leader among defensemen, the Thrashers can take another step toward solidifying a playoff berth by beating a team that’s playing its second game in two nights.
-- Byfuglien has been hot all season and has points in four of his past five games. However, his four-game point streak was snapped against the Florida Panthers in his most recent outing. .. For the Leafs, Mikhail Grabovski
has helped carry the load with points in four of his past five games, including a goal against the Blues during regulation and a spectacular score during the shootout. Kessel had a pair of goals against the Blues
-- Evander Kane and Byfuglien are questionable against the Leafs with lower body injuries, while Jim Slater is questionable with a concussion for the Thrashers. Meanwhile, the Leafs bring a healthy lineup against Atlanta.
– Philips Arena has always been a fun place to visit for the Leafs. Toronto is 12-5-0-2 in Atlanta including 4-1-1 in their last six visits.
– It’s hard to believe, but though they play in a division with superstars Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin, the Thrashers bring the highest-powered offense in the Southeast Division into the game against the Leafs.