Originally created 01/26/01

Maple Leafs 2, Thrashers 1



ATLANTA -- Toronto picked up a rare victory against a team struggling even more than the Maple Leafs.

Bryan McCabe scored 39 seconds into overtime to push Toronto past Atlanta 2-1 Thursday night, extending the Thrashers' winless streak to 13 games.

Gary Roberts tied it up for the Maple Leafs with 7:12 left in regulation before McCabe's fourth goal of the season gave Toronto just its sixth victory in 20 games.

"We approached this as a must-win," said Toronto captain Mats Sundin, who assisted on the winning goal. "We showed a lot of character at the end of this game."

Atlanta picked up a point but endured another stinging defeat, just two days after an apparent tying goal against Nashville was wiped out with 2.1 seconds remaining.

"I thought we deserved to win," said Atlanta goalie Milan Hnilicka, who made 31 saves.

The winning goal was set up when Tomas Kaberle sent a slap shot wide of the Atlanta net. With Hnilicka sprawled on the ice, the puck came out on the opposite side to Sundin, who failed to stuff it past the Thrashers goalie.

But Hnilicka couldn't control the rebound, allowing McCabe to slip the puck between the goalie's glove and the post.

"The rebound just came to me," McCabe said. "The puck hit the goalie's glove, and I wasn't sure it went in. But it went in, and it was a huge two points for us."

Atlanta was bolstered by the return of left wing Andrew Brunette, who missed four games recovering from a concussion. He was reunited with Ray Ferraro and Donald Audette on a line featuring the Thrashers' top three scorers.

But the trio couldn't halt the nearly monthlong slide, which stretched to 0-10-3 since Atlanta's last victory on Dec. 28.

"A point is a point, and every one is important for us," Thrashers coach Curt Fraser said. "But it would have been nice to get a win."

The Thrashers went ahead at 12:56 of the first period with Yanic Perreault in the penalty box for hooking.

Ferraro attacked after Maple Leafs defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich lost his stick, flipping a pass to Audette at the side of the net.

Audette tried to stuff the puck past goalie Glenn Healy, who made the save. But the puck rebounded in front to Ferraro, who fired a low shot through Healy's legs for his 18th goal.

For the Thrashers, it was their fourth power-play goal in two games.

Toronto, which had converted just two times on its previous 41 power-play opportunities, finally broke through against Hnilicka with a man advantage.

Herbert Vasiljevs was off for hooking when McCabe faked Jarrod Skalde to the ice and fired a slap shot from about 15 feet inside the blue line. Hnilicka made the initial save but Roberts, left unchecked by Atlanta defenseman Yannick Tremblay, flicked in the rebound for his 19th goal.

"We deserved it in the end, but I don't think we got anything for free," Sundin said. "Hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

Hnilicka's record dropped to 0-5 during Atlanta's winless kid, but he played much better than his previous start: a 5-2 loss to Anaheim in which he was yanked after giving up three soft goals in the first period.

"I had a lot to think about, a lot to work on," said Hnilicka, who watched Damain Rhodes play the last three games.

Toronto dominated in the final minutes of regulation. Hnilicka made several key saves and the Thrashers twice iced the puck to relieve the pressure.

Notes:

Ferraro has a six-game scoring streak. ... Before the game, the Thrashers recalled D Brett Clark from Orlando of the IHL and optioned left wing Bryan Adams to the minors. ... Kaberle didn't get a chance to play against his brother. Atlanta defenseman Frantisek Kaberle was scratched from the lineup because of the flu. ... Healy had 25 saves for Toronto.