Maple Leafs-Thrashers Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (14-9-3) at Atlanta Thrashers (10-12-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
This may usually be a spot in which Ed Belfour would get a night off. Being so close to making history, Belfour might not want to watch from the bench.
The 40-year-old goaltender could get another shot at sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Atlanta Thrashers.
Despite having played on Wednesday night and this contest being the end of a three-game road trip, Belfour may be back in net looking to pass Terry Sawchuk for second place among netminders.
Plus, he has dominated the Thrashers, going 8-2-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average in 11 career starts. He's won both outings against Atlanta this season, allowing two goals and stopping 52 shots.
Belfour came up short in his first bid to pass Sawchuk, remaining stuck on 447 wins following a 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
"It just wasn't meant to be tonight," he said. "I thought we worked hard. Just keep working hard and it will eventually happen."
Belfour stopped 22 shots and allowed fewer than three goals for the fourth time in six starts.
"Ed was fine," coach Pat Quinn said. "He made some good stops for us. In the third period, when we needed to have some guys playing, we didn't get the guys playing very well. Your goaltender can keep teams off the board for so long."
Nik Antropov scored the lone goal Wednesday for the Maple Leafs, who are 7-3-1 is their last 11 games.
Toronto, which entered the game with the best road power-play percentage in the league (28.8), was 0-for-5 with the man advantage against the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning.
Mats Sundin, who has 1,101 career points, played in his 1,100th NHL game but did not record a point.
The Thrashers lost for the first time in three games on Tuesday, falling 4-3 in overtime to the Carolina Hurricanes. Marc Savard had a goal and an assist for Atlanta, which earned a franchise-best 16 points in November.
Bobby Holik scored on the power play for the Thrashers, who have six goals with the man advantage in their last four games.
"Our power play right now is lethal," said Savard, who has five goals and three assists in his last three games. "We can move the puck around as good as anyone in the league. We are positive on that standpoint. Our penalty kill could be better. We have 20 guys on the same page, and it's working out well."
Atlanta has lost five straight to Toronto.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 30): Maple Leafs - 31 points, 3rd place (tied), 7 PB, Northeast Division. Thrashers - 23 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Jeff O'Neill, 11 goals; Bryan McCabe, 23 assists and 33 points; McCabe and Wade Belak, 38 PIM. Thrashers - Ilya Kovalchuk, 17 goals; Savard, 26 assists and 37 points; Andy Sutton, 56 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 30): Maple Leafs - Power play: 22.7 percent (37 for 163), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (130 for 159), 20th. Thrashers - Power play: 21.6 percent (41 for 189), 4th. Penalty killing: 79.1 percent (133 for 168), 27th.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Belfour (12-7-2, 3.18 GAA); Mikael Tellqvist (2-2-1, 2.83). Thrashers - Michael Garnett (3-3-1, 0, 4.26); Adam Berkhoel (2-4-0, 0, 4.08).
SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 19; Maple Leafs, 5-1. At Toronto, Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice and had an assist for the Maple Leafs, who have outscored the Thrashers 14-2 this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 5-5-2 on the road; Thrashers - 5-6-1 at home.