Atlanta at Toronto

Ponikarovsky finds net twice for streaking Maple Leafs


TORONTO -- The Atlanta Thrashers were too tired Saturday night to avenge an embarrassing loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice and had an assist to help the Maple Leafs beat the Thrashers 5-1 for their season-high fourth straight victory.

Bryan McCabe added a goal and two assists for the Maple Leafs, who also beat Atlanta 9-1 in a fight-filled rout on Oct. 14.

Saturday night's game featured a lengthy bout between Toronto's Wade Belak and Atlanta's Eric Boulton, but no other fights. The Maple Leafs accused Atlanta's Bob Hartley of "goon coaching" after the 9-1 thrashing in Atlanta.

"It was embarrassing up in our own rink, so we wanted to come out and have a good game, but we came out flat," Atlanta's Marc Savard said.

Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal for the Thrashers, who were tired after winning an overtime in Philadelphia on Friday night.

"I don't know what was left after last night's game but it's still an unacceptable effort," Hartley said.

Michael Garnett replaced rookie Adam Berkhoel in goal after Berkhoel allowed four goals on 17 shots -- three of them high wrist shots. Berkhoel also struggled in his last start, allowing seven goals in Atlanta's 7-3 home loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Toronto outshot Atlanta 13-2 in the first period and scored three goals. Alexander Steen beat Berkhoel with a wrist shot into the top right hand corner just 50 seconds into the game.

"We've had a good week," said Steen, whose team didn't need their power play against Atlanta. "Scoring five-on-five is real key to winning hockey games too. We showed that tonight."

McCabe's high wrist shot from in front of the net beat Berkhoel at 7:07 of the first, and a sprawled Berkhoel allowed Nik Antropov's weak shot to trickle under his glove for Toronto's third goal at 16:40 of the first.

Kovalchuk cut it to 3-1 on the power play late in the first, but Ponikarovsky put a high wrister past Berkhoel at 4:22 in the second.

Ponikarovsky made it 5-1 at 9:49 of the second with a shot from the side of the net.

"I didn't score a hat trick, but it feels good to score a couple of goals," Ponikarovsky said.


  • McCabe leads NHL defenseman with nine goals and 30 points.
  • Toronto's Darcy Tucker played despite nursing a charley horse.
  • In the last 15 games, Kovalchuk has 14 goals and 13 assists.
  • It was Garnett's second NHL appearance since Oct. 20. Garnett is one of five goalies used by the injury-plagued Thrashers this season. He was recalled from Chicago of the AHL on Tuesday.
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Alexei Ponikarovsky is cheered by teammmates after his second period goal, the first of his NHL career. (AP)
Alexei Ponikarovsky is cheered by teammmates after his second period goal, the first of his NHL career. (AP)
Atlanta (8-11-1)1001
Toronto  (12-7-2) «3205
Three Stars
T. Kaberle

Goals: 0
Assist(s): 2
A. Ponikarovsky

Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
B. McCabe

Goals: 1
Assist(s): 2

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Scoring Summary
00:50Alexander Steen (8), Snap Shot - Assists: Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe
07:07Bryan McCabe (9), Slap Shot - Assists: Tomas Kaberle and Mats Sundin
16:40Short - Nik Antropov (4), Wrist Shot - Assists: Alexei Ponikarovsky and Bryan McCabe
17:23Power Play - Ilya Kovalchuk (14), Slap Shot - Assists: Greg de Vries and Marc Savard
04:42Alexei Ponikarovsky (6), Wrist Shot - Assists: Nik Antropov and Jason Allison
09:49Alexei Ponikarovsky (7), Slap Shot - Assists: Alexander Khavanov and Jason Allison
Penalty Summary
03:07Stefan: Holding - 2 min.
07:31Belak: Fighting - 5 min.
07:31Boulton: Fighting - 5 min.
08:11Petrovicky: High sticking - 2 min.
14:12Kozlov: Hooking - 2 min.
15:36Sundin: Hooking - 2 min.
01:16Kozlov: Cross Check - 2 min.
06:29Klee: Too Many Men on the Ice(bench) - 2 min.
17:44Savard: Roughing - 2 min.
17:44Domi: Roughing - 2 min.
04:37Domi: Holding - 2 min.
13:15Bondra: High sticking - 2 min.
18:27Domi: Delay of Game - 2 min.
Atlanta21515 32
Toronto131213 38
Attendance - 19412
Game Time - 60:00
Referees - Greg Kimmerly, Dan Marouelli
Line Judges - Greg Devorski, Brian Mach
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