THRASHERS (33-31-12) at MAPLE LEAFS (28-35-13)
Atlanta 5-3-2; Toronto 7-2-1
This is the last of four meetings. The Maple Leafs have won two of three, including a 2-1 road win over the Thrashers in the most recent matchup on March 25. Mikhail Grabovski
scored 39 seconds into overtime to put a dent in Atlanta's playoff hopes.
The Thrashers are attempting to earn one of four remaining playoff berths up for grabs in the Eastern Conference. Two points behind Boston for the eighth spot, they may have to run the table in their final seven games. Atlanta is attempting to qualify for the playoffs for the second time in franchise history, and first since 2006-07.
"If we deserve to be there, we will be there," goalie Johan Hedberg told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It's going to be in our own hands."
Atlanta is beginning a three-game road trip that will also take them to Washington and Pittsburgh this week.
It will be interesting to see how the Thrashers react following a dud Monday night against the Hurricanes. Bidding to sweep a home-and-home, Nik Antropov got them on the board first, but the next four goals belonged to the visitors. Jussi Jokinen scored twice for Carolina, including an empty-netter to seal a 4-1 Atlanta loss.
With the Bruins also losing at home to the Sabres, it was a missed opportunity for the Thrashers to pull into a tie for eighth.
"I can't explain how I feel right now," coach John Anderson said. "Very disappointed, but I still believe in ourselves. We have to pick ourselves up, we have a game (Tuesday). We can re-instate ourselves (in the race) right away."
Toronto is beginning a four-game homestand that will also include visits from Buffalo, Boston and Philadelphia.
In their last game on Sunday, the Maple Leafs suffered a 5-4 shootout loss against the Penguins at Pittsburgh. Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 41 saves for the Leafs.
"Jean-Sebastien made a number of great saves and is probably the reason we got a point," coach Ron Wilson said.
, Phil Kessel
, Carl Gunnarsson
and Tyler Bozak
scored goals for Toronto. It was Kessel's team-leading 30th goal of the season.
For the Thrashers, Rich Peverley has 2 goals and 2 assists in five games, and Niclas Bergfors has a goal and an assist in two games. … For the Maple Leafs, Grabovski has a goal and 2 assists in three games, Nikolai Kulemin
has a goal and 3 assists in three games, Dion Phaneuf
has 4 assists in six games, and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson
has won seven consecutive starts.
For the Thrashers, Todd White (upper-body), Vyacheslav Kozlov (head), Evander Kane (foot), and Christoph Schubert (hip) are day-to-day, and Boris Valabik (knee) is on injured reserve. … For the Maple Leafs, Mike Komisarek
(shoulder) and Mike Van Ryn (knee) are on injured reserve.
Gustavsson has recorded a win in seven consecutive starts from March 6 to 27. Over that span, he has stopped 183 of 197 shots, posting a 1.93 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. Gustavsson's current win streak marks the best span for a Maple Leafs rookie goaltender since Damian Rhodes won the first six games of his NHL career (March 1991 to Dec. 1993). The last Leafs goaltender to win seven straight starts was Ed Belfour (Nov. 22-Dec. 6, 2003). … Bergfors is fourth among all NHL rookies in scoring with 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists), and is tied for second in goals. He has scored 8-7-15 in 21 games with Atlanta since being acquired in a trade from New Jersey earlier this season.
"I can't think past tomorrow. Hopefully none of us are. Every day the standings change. … In three days we could be really in the mix or we could be out of it." -- Anderson to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.