Kilger stands up for his captain

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Chad Kilger saw Mats Sundin lying on the ice in pain and went looking for a fight.

With just 30 penalty minutes to his credit in the previous 51 games, Kilger received a total of 17 minutes after scrapping with Atlanta Thrashers defenceman Greg de Vries last night.

BIG HIT

Kilger tried to get at Garnet Exelby, who laid out Sundin with a thundering body check, but had to settle for going with de Vries after the latter stepped in.

"In this lifestyle it is pretty much bred in you that you want to stick up for your teammates, especially your leader," said Kilger, who received an instigating minor, a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct.

"I didn't really see the play but I saw Mats down. I figured it was the right play to make."

So did the rest of the Maple Leafs.

The score was 0-0 when Kilger took action. In the next eight minutes, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Darcy Tucker scored to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. That was enough for a second consecutive win.

"We were all pretty impressed," rookie Kyle Wellwood said. "You can't always leave it to Tie (Domi) and Wade (Belak). They were taking cheapshots on Eddie (Belfour), Mats and Bryan (McCabe). For a guy who is not known as a fighter to go out and do really well, it definitely was a spark on the bench."

The Leafs and Thrashers won't soon forget their four-game season series, though for different reasons.

The perceived cheapshots on the part of the Thrashers did nothing in their favour, as Toronto won all four games and outscored Atlanta 22-3.

Sundin was sporting a bloody upper lip, but that came from a high stick.

"I don't think I have been hit that hard since I was 16 in junior," Sundin said of the check by Exelby. "It's nice (that Kilger stepped in). I think it showed a lot about our dressing room."

Watching all of this was injured defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, whose recovery from a severe concussion suffered against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 23 has been slow.

HEADACHES

Colaiacovo is doing a lot of nothing these days, as the headaches remain constant. He is glad the Olympic break is approaching, but there is no telling when he will play again, let alone step on the ice.

"The head is not operating as it should," Colaiacovo said in the dressing room last night.

"It's pretty serious. Once the headaches go away, we'll be able to determine where I am and how much I can do."


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