Bloody win for Leafs

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

ATLANTA -- The last time something this big and blue tore through town, General Sherman was in the lead and the South was in shambles.

Last night it was a steady column of Maple Leafs, on the march to a 9-1 win over the Thrashers with a club-record seven power-play goals.

The game was marred by a third period straight out of Slap Shot.

Jeff O'Neill's hat trick, the first by a Leaf in almost three years, was the catalyst as he and linemates Jason Allison and Darcy Tucker combined with defenceman Bryan McCabe for 16 points.

"Sometimes you have to go through a whirlwind to get stronger," Tucker said of the game, while sporting a 20-stitch cut above his left eye.

The 'whirlwind' was a crazy third period that pushed the penalty total to 147 minutes, saw three Thrashers get game misconducts and a near confrontation between Atlanta coach Bob Hartley and Leafs general manager John Ferguson.

At least two incidents -- the Andy Sutton hit on Tucker and Tie Domi getting mixed up with one of the referees -- while trying to get at Eric Boulton, will likely be looked at by the league.

"A bloody disgrace," livid Leafs coach Pat Quinn said in accusing counterpart Bob Hartley of "head-hunting" players such as Eric Lindros and a slightly nicked Nik Antropov on a blindside hit from Patrik Stefan. "That's trying to hurt people and there should be no place for that in the game.

"Do we go head-hunting after them in the next game (Nov. 19 in Toronto)? Is that the answer?"

The Leafs earlier lost Chad Kilger with a bruised foot.

O'Neill had the Leafs' first two goals after Toronto shut down Atlanta's two-man advantage for 1:27 without allowing a shot on Ed Belfour. That just about decided the game, as the hungry Leafs zeroed in on Atlanta's emergency call-up goaltender Michael Garnett.

"He had a tough night, but in a game like this, you want to get your points early," O'Neill said, as he became the first Leaf since Alex Mogilny to net three and the first since Gary Roberts back in 2001 to do it on the road.

Two of O'Neill's three goals were on the power play, with Allison, Lindros, Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen and Alexei Ponikarovsky helping to break the club record of five.

Even-strength goals went to O'Neill and Tucker, with Marc Savard breaking Ed Belfour's shutout bid five minutes into the third, prior to hostilities.

"The pretty boys were working for us tonight," said McCabe, who had four assists, three on the power play.

It was Belfour's first win of the season.

And it was a good start to back-to-back games for Toronto, which plays in Montreal this evening.


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