Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala isn't at all worried that his team's next seven games are on the road. The way the Maple Leafs have played lately, his confidence is understandable.
Toronto seeks a season-high third straight road victory Friday night when the trip gets underway against the Atlanta Thrashers.
After a fourth straight loss on Nov. 27 dropped the Maple Leafs to 8-11-6, rumors intensified that the team was ready to shake things up with front office firings and player moves. Those rumors may have been just what Toronto needed to get going because it has won five of six since then.
"Sometimes you need an absurd amount of pressure to get things going," Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "So absurd that you think the entire game of hockey will be called off based on the way the Leafs are playing. It helps put things in perspective."
Tampa Bay proved no match for the red-hot Maple Leafs (13-12-6) on Monday as Jason Blake started a four-goal spurt in the second period and Chad Kilger added a pair of goals en route to a 6-1 victory.
Although they play their next seven games on the road, the Leafs will actually make three trips. They will fly home after facing Montreal on Saturday, and again for Christmas after playing Florida on Dec. 22. The stretch concludes with games against the New York Islanders on Dec. 26 and the next night in Philadelphia.
"We've been playing pretty well on the road so it doesn't make me nervous at all," Toskala told the team's official Web site.
Toskala may be the biggest reason for Toronto's turnaround. He is 5-1-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average in his last six starts, including an 18-save performance in a 4-2 win at Atlanta on Nov. 29.
"Vesa has settled down and is playing outstanding," center Nik Antropov said. "We're feeding off it. He's playing amazing right now."
Toskala is 3-0-1 with a 2.46 GAA in four career starts against Atlanta.
The Thrashers (14-15-1) had points in four straight games (3-0-1) before allowing 11 total goals in losses to Washington and Boston. Despite erasing a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals, Atlanta was outscored 2-0 in the third period in a 5-3 loss to the Bruins on Wednesday.
"We were right where we needed to be," coach Don Waddell said. "We knew the first period was their best period, and the third period is usually ours. We put ourselves in position to win the game."
Mark Recchi, picked up off waivers from Pittsburgh on Saturday, scored two goals in his Thrashers debut. The 19-year veteran had only two goals in 19 games with the Penguins.
"I feel very comfortable with the hockey club already," Recchi said. "I hope to continue to help and help us get some wins."
Marian Hossa had two assists in the defeat, giving him three goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak.
Ilya Kovalchuk - the league leader with 24 goals - has four goals and four assists in his last six games against Toronto.
The Thrashers had won four straight against the Maple Leafs before that streak ended on Nov. 29.