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Hnilicka's 40 saves helps Atlanta end road skid

1/15/2002

TORONTO (AP) -- Atlanta rookies Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk
impressed the Toronto Maple Leafs -- again.

Heatley scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and
assisted on Kovalchuk's 22nd goal of the season as the Thrashers
snapped a five-game road losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the
Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

"This is a tough league, and for them to step right in and play
that well, they have to be something special," Toronto goalie
Curtis Joseph said.

The 20-year-old Heatley leads all rookies in scoring with 38
points, and the 18-year-old Kovalchuk is second with 37.

Alexei Ponikarovsky and Robert Reichel scored for the Maple
Leafs, who also lost to the Thrashers on Dec. 28 when Kovalchuk and
Heatley each scored two goals.

"They are good young players. They've hurt us in two games
now," Toronto's Gary Roberts said. "They are definitely going to
be great players for a long time. We're just giving up way too many
scoring opportunities to skilled guys."

Milan Hnilicka made 40 saves and Lubos Bartecko also scored for
the Thrashers, who extended their unbeaten streak to four games
(3-0-1).

"This is big," Heatley said. "We're a very confident team
right now, and I think it started with our first win against
Toronto. We had been playing so well and not getting rewarded, but
we took control of that game and we've played well since then."

Heatley snapped a 2-all tie at 13:21 of the third period when he
stole the puck from Toronto defenseman Jyrki Lumme and fired a
wrist shot past Joseph.

Kovalchuk scored at 4:25 of the first to give Atlanta a 1-0
lead.

Bartecko made it 2-0 at 15:14 of the first when he scored on
rebound.

Toronto, which outshot Atlanta 20-7 in the second period and
42-22 overall, closed within at goal at 5:23 of the period when
Ponikarovsky tipped a shot past goalie Milan Hnilicka.

Reichel tied the game almost 2 minutes, beating Hnilicka on a
rebound from the side of the net.

Game notes
Toronto forward Alexander Mogilny missed the game a sore
back. ... The Maple Leafs signed coach and general manager Pat
Quinn to a three-year contract extension on Tuesday. ...The
Thrashers activated defenseman Jiri Slegr and center Pascal Rheaume
from injured reserve Tuesday and placed defenseman David Harlock on
waivers.