The Atlanta Thrashers looked downright ugly in their surprising 9-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Thrashers enforcer Ben Eager provided the ugliest moment of the night when he landed a sucker punch on Leafs forward Colby Armstrong.
There’s really no defense for Eager’s actions, at least judging from what happened on the ice. He simply landed a punch on Armstrong out of nowhere and received a deserved match penalty, one that Toronto wasn’t shy about exploiting.
(You can watch the video here.)
It was already 5-1 when Eager dropped Armstrong with that cheap shot so you cannot blame him for the loss, but the Leafs made Atlanta pay on the scoreboard with four power-play goals during that major penalty.
Who knows if the league will discipline Eager in any way – personally, I think he should absolutely face some kind of suspension, considering the senseless nature of the punch – but we’ll certainly keep you updated.
Naturally, a nine goal performance will help players boost their stats and that was certainly the case in this one. Nikolai Kulemin scored two goals and two assists, Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and one assist, Tomas Kaberle produced four assists and Armstrong himself scored a goal and an assist. (For more on the many Leafs who profited from the Thrashers’ boneheaded behavior and poor play, consult the box score.)
James Reimer earned his second career win, stopping 41 out of 44 shots while the Thrashers not-so-surprisingly needed both Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec to absorb those nine goals.
The Leafs are now on a two game winning streak while the Atlanta’s hold on the sixth spot in the East is tenuous. The Thrashers (50 points) played three more games than seventh seed than the Rangers (49 points) and eighth seed Canadiens (47 points), but they should be pretty safe from the ninth place Hurricanes (44 points in four less games played).