Telly Stands Tall
December 1, 2005
ATLANTA (AP) -- In a matchup of two of the top power plays in the NHL, Atlanta was short-handed more often than Toronto - and the Thrashers paid for it Thursday night.
Mikael Tellqvist stopped 28 shots for his first career shutout, Darcy Tucker scored twice and the Maple Leafs stretched their winning streak over Atlanta to six games by beating the Thrashers 4-0.
The Maple Leafs scored on three of their 11 power-play opportunities. The Thrashers were denied 26 times in the first two periods by Tellqvist and were 0-for-8 on power plays.
"He was sharp early in the game,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "Our penalty killers were good, too. The best part about penalty killing is usually the goaltender, and he certainly answered tonight.''
Tellqvist, giving regular starter Ed Belfour a night off as the Maple Leafs were playing back-to-back games, earned Toronto's first shutout of the season.
"I've been waiting a long time for that,'' Tellqvist said. "It was huge. All the credit goes to my D-men.''
Alexei Ponikarovsky had a short-handed goal and Alex Steen also scored for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto has the league's best road power-play percentage (26.9) and is second overall at 22.7 per cent. The Thrashers are fourth with a 21.6 per cent success rate on the power play.
Though the Thrashers managed only two shots in the final period, they fired 16 second-period shots at Tellqvist.
"He made some key saves on us tonight, but that's no excuse for us,'' Atlanta centre Marc Savard said. "We've got to find some ways to score.''
Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the opening period and added two goals in the final five minutes. The Thrashers were shut out for the fourth time this season.
Toronto has outscored Atlanta 18-2 in three wins this season.
Tucker, who needed 20 stitches on his forehead after the Maple Leafs' last visit to Atlanta, gave Toronto the lead less than five minutes into the game and added his second goal in the third period.
"Sometimes you just have that feeling,'' Tucker said. "We want to keep that feeling going.''
When the Maple Leafs played in Atlanta on Oct. 14, two third-period brawls helped lead to a total of 109 penalty minutes in Toronto's 9-1 win.
The Thrashers placed more emphasis on avoiding penalties in November, but they again played short-handed too often Thursday night with 11 penalties, including five in the third period.
"We definitely have to play even strength,'' Thrashers defenceman Garnet Exelby said. "When you're in the box that much it's pretty tough to win. We make it hard on ourselves.''
The penalties caught up with Atlanta in the third when Toronto, with a two-man advantage, took a 3-0 lead on Tucker's second goal. Tucker scored on a pass from Jason Allison. Tomas Kaberle also was credited with an assist.
Steen added a power-play goal about a minute later for a 4-0 lead. Mats Sundin and Bryan McCabe had assists.
"You have to be able to attack, and when you are sitting in the box, that's impossible against a good, veteran team like this,'' Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said. "Their power play is their bread and butter, and they excel at this.''
By comparison, Atlanta is only 27th in the league on the penalty kill. Only seven seconds into the Maple Leafs' first power play of the game, Tucker took advantage of that weakness in the Thrashers' defence as he scored his 10th goal, assisted by McCabe and Allison.
With two assists, McCabe has 34 points and the NHL scoring lead for defencemen.
The Maple Leafs pushed the lead to 2-0 late in the first period with a short-handed goal by Ponikarovsky. He beat goalie Michael Garnett, and Nik Antropov got the assist.
Notes: Belfour is still tied with Terry Sawchuk for second place on the NHL career list with 447 wins. Patrick Roy tops the victory list with 551. ... The Thrashers set a franchise record with 16 points in November. ... The Thrashers had only two shots in the third period. ... Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk had only two shots as his seven-game point streak ended.