Originally created 10/31/06

Thrashers beaten by nemesis



TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Atlanta Thrashers yet again, this time by using their power play.

Darcy Tucker scored two power-play goals and the Maple Leafs won their eighth straight against the Thrashers, earning a 4-2 victory on Monday night.

Tomas Kaberle also scored on the power play for Toronto, which won consecutive games for the first time this season. The Maple Leafs beat Montreal in a shootout Saturday night.

Toronto scored three power-play goals during an 86-second stretch in the first period.

"I can't explain why we play so well against them. We were fortunate to get two points tonight," Tucker said.

The Thrashers lost for just the second time in regulation, and were coming off a big victory on Saturday when they snapped Buffalo's season-opening winning streak at 10.

But their troubles against Toronto continued. Atlanta has been outscored 37-9 during the skid and hasn't beaten the Maple Leafs since a 3-2 road victory on Oct. 27, 2003.

Ilya Kovalchuk and Brad Larsen scored for Atlanta.

"Sometimes coming off an emotional game like Saturday, it's tough to come back," Atlanta captain Scott Mellanby said. "But there's no excuse. We've got to be ready.

"Those first period power plays were the difference. We just couldn't claw our way back."

Toronto ended its three-game losing streak on Saturday when defenseman Kaberle recorded his first career hat trick and scored in the shootout. He'd been criticized in the past for passing up shots, but he didn't hesitate against the Thrashers when Mats Sundin found him with a pass in the first period.

Sundin tied a team record with three assists in the opening frame.

The Maple Leafs went 3-for-7 on the power play after entering tied for 21st in the NHL - scoring eight times in their first 63 chances.

Tucker has been the only bright spot on Toronto's power play - scoring seven of his nine goals with the man advantage.

"The power play gave us a boost in the first period," Toronto forward Michael Peca said. "Any time you capitalize on 5-on-3 power plays it means a lot to your hockey team because when those opportunities get wasted it's a bit of emotional let down."

Atlanta went 1-for-7 on the power play.

Kovalchuk skated over the blue line and used defenseman Wade Belak as a shield before putting a wrist shot past goalie Andrew Raycroft at 8:12 of the first.

But the Leafs scored less than a minute later on a two-man advantage.

Tucker - left alone at the side of the net - tied it at 9:18 of the first.

Kaberle put a slap shot past goalie Kari Lehtonen less than minute later on a two-man advantage.

Just 31 seconds later, Tucker gave Toronto a 3-1 lead by pushing the puck over the goal line on the power play.

Toronto's Bryan McCabe left the penalty box and skated in on a breakaway in the second, but Lehtonen made a pad save.

Jeff O'Neill made it 4-1 by scoring on a breakaway at 16:05 of the third.

Larsen cut it to 4-2 with a short-handed goal on a breakaway just over a minute later.

Notes: Toronto outscored Atlanta 22-3 in four games last season.... The Thrashers played their fifth game in eight nights.... Tucker has 17 two-goal games in his career but has never had a hat trick.