Kubina nets OT winner to lift Maple Leafs past Thrashers

TORONTO (Ticker) — Pavel Kubina scored a power-play goal 33
seconds into overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-3
victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday.

Rookie Nikolai Kulemin, Lee Stempniak and Jason Blake scored for
the Maple Leafs, who snapped their three-game losing streak.

Curtis Joseph stopped 29 shots en route to his first victory of
the season and 450th career.

“It was an entertaining game and the guys were happy for me that
I got my first win and it feels really good to contribute,”
Joseph said. “I haven’t played a lot and I’ve had to find that
mental edge where you’ve got to be sharp no matter what and I
think I had a little of that tonight.

“You learn to battle and summon up all of the experience you’ve
had in the past and we were able to win the game. I felt very
focused tonight.”

Bryan Little and Jim Slater tallied for the Thrashers before
Colby Armstrong netted a power-play goal to forge a 3-3 tie with
6:43 left in the third period.

“I thought Joseph played well the whole game and made some
timely saves for them,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said. “We
got away from our gameplan in the second period and allowed them
to come back. We battled hard to tie it late but couldn’t come
away with the win.”

Kubina notched his eighth goal of the season when he fired a
wrist shot from the high slot that beat Johan Hedberg and sent
the Maple Leafs to a win in the first contest of a four-game

Little and Slater scored within a span of 1:58 early in the
first to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead, but Kulemin converted passes
from Mikhail Grabovski and defenseman Jonas Frogren to cut the
deficit in half shortly thereafter.

“We got down early but (Joseph) kept us in the game and let us
catch our breath and get back into it,” Stempniak said. “We
were able to get a lot of shots and generated second
opportunities on rebounds. We did a better job as the game went
on to go to the net and pounce on rebounds.”

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Stempniak pulled Toronto even at 2-2 with a wrist shot from the
left faceoff circle 4:16 into the second.

“I pulled the puck in and tried to change the angle a little bit
and was able to get it under his arm and in the net,” Stempniak

Hedberg was exposed again as Blake capitalized by unleashing a
snap shot from in front of the net with 86 seconds remaining in
the session.

However, Toronto’s rally was negated by a hard wrister from
Armstrong from the slot that flew by Joseph to knot the game and
force the extra session.

Still, Joseph’s teammates were impressed with his effort.

“We’re really happy for him,” Stempniak said. “He works so hard
in practice and it’s up to us to play well in front of him, but
he made some unbelievable saves on a few breakaways.”

One of those breakaways came from Slater, who failed to notch
his second goal of the game thanks to one of Joseph’s saves in
the second period.

“It’s tough when you fight back to tie it late and then take a
penalty to go into overtime shorthanded,” Slater said. “It’s
tough to kill a 4-on-3. I was able to score on the first
breakaway but then I had another breakaway shorthanded and if I
score on that it could be a different outcome.”

Hedberg turned aside 43 shots – including 16 in the second.

“Every game I’ve ever coached against Hedberg he’s stood on his
head,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “Tonight he made some
unbelievable saves, it shouldn’t have gone to overtime but it
did, and we got a break and scored a nice goal. We were
committed to getting the puck on the net which makes the goalie
have to find it and we were in attack mode.”