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Maple Leafs look to end two-game slide against Thrashers

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The Sports Network
12/20/2010 11:32:40 AM
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(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Thrashers will try to pick up where they left off on Saturday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening at Air Canada Centre.

The Thrashers ended a two-game slide and improved to 3-0-2 over their last five outings with Saturday's 7-1 pounding of the visiting New Jersey Devils. Atlanta's victory combined with Washington's eighth straight loss on Saturday briefly catapulted the Thrashers into the top spot in the Southeast Division, but Washington won on Sunday to move one point ahead of Atlanta.

Eric Boulton registered his first career hat trick and Ondrej Pavelec made 26 saves to lead Atlanta to the easy victory over the Devils at Philips Arena. The Thrashers scored three times in the first period and jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the early stages of the second period.

Chris Thorburn had a goal and two assists for the Thrashers and Ron Hainsey had a goal and one helper.

"We're a long way from done," Atlanta head coach Craig Ramsey said of being in first place. "We have a lot to work to do, but I want them to enjoy it. I told them to enjoy this, but we have to fly up north again."

The Thrashers, who are 8-5-3 as the guest this year, will alternate road and home games over their next seven outings. Atlanta had won three straight on the road prior to Wednesday's shootout loss in Tampa.

Toronto, meanwhile, has lost two straight and four of its last six games. The Maple Leafs recently went 1-2-0 on a three-game tour of western Canada, winning the first game in Edmonton before losing in regulation to both Calgary and Vancouver.

The Leafs were dealt a 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Saturday as Alexandre Burrows and Jannik Hansen each posted a goal and an assist for the Canucks. Roberto Luongo made 27 saves in the victory.

Mikhail Grabovski scored the only Maple Leafs goal in the third period, drawing them within 2-1, but Christian Ehrhoff tallied after that and Henrik Sedin scored an empty-net goal for the final margin.

Jonas Gustavsson made 25 saves in the loss, allowing one goal in each period.

The Maple Leafs are 8-6-3 as the host this year and will play three of their next four games on home ice.

Tonight's test marks the first of four meetings between Toronto and the Thrashers this year. The clubs split the season series in 2009-10 and the Leafs have won seven out of 11 against Atlanta. The Thrashers have lost seven of their last 11 games in Toronto.

Mikhail Grabovski (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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