Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur each scored a pair of goals in the Leafs 9-3 routing of the Atlanta Thrashers at the Phillips Arena Friday night. Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong also added tallies, while Tomas Kaberle notched four assists from the backend.
Tobias Enstrom opened the scoring on a wrist shot past Leafs goaltender James Reimer for his eighth of the season. Toronto tied the game at 9:43 of the first period when Versteeg snapped his 12th from the top of the circle and went far side on Ondrej Pavelec.
Grabovski extended his goal scoring streak – 12 goals in his past 14 games – late in the second period by tucking in his 16th at the side of the Thrashers net on the power play to give the Leafs a 2-1 advantage heading into the second period.
After a slow start to the season and injury troubles, Armstrong has finally regained his form at the mid-point of the season. He buried his fifth of the season, with assists from Versteeg and Kaberle.
Armstrong’s goal was the beginning of the Leafs offensive supremacy over the Thrashers in the second period. Toronto scored five goals within a six-minute span, including three on the man advantage. Kulemin finished off his 14th and 15th goals, respectively, with one coming on the power play. MacArthur also had two goals with the extra man and added an assist on Grabovski’s second goal.
Ben Eager received a match penalty for deliberate injury by sucker punching Armstrong in the Leafs defensive end when the Leafs were leading 5-1. On a negative note, Armstrong left the game and did not return. It gave the Leafs a five-minute power play and jumpstarted their dominance over the suddenly not-so ‘Hot’lanta. Eager took an astounding 17 minutes in penalties throughout the game.
Phil Kessel fired a wrist shot between the legs of Chris Mason – who was inserted into the game in relief of Pavelec – to put the Leafs up 9-1 early in the third period.
Atlanta pushed back in the third period with goals by Patrice Cormier and Andrew Ladd. However, it was far too late for any sort of comeback. Cormier sniped his first career NHL goal past Reimer at 14:09 on a turnover by Dion Phaneuf in the defensive zone. Ladd’s goal was his 14th, with assists from Bryan Little and Niclas Bergfors.
Francois Beauchemin recorded his second straight multi-point game with two assists. Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek and Tyler Bozak also tallied helpers.
The Thrashers outshot Toronto, 44-34, including a 20-6 advantage in the third period. Reimer turned aside 41 saves in another impressive appearance by the rookie. He is making a strong case to replace Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the Leafs backup goaltender to Jonas Gustavsson.
Toronto will have a well-deserved two-day break before taking on the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center on Monday night. The Leafs conclude their current four-game road trip next Saturday against the Calgary Flames.