TORONTO (AP) -Whatever message new general manager Brian Burke gave to the Toronto Maple Leafs, it surely got through.
One of Burke's first acts as team president and GM was to address the players before Saturday night's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The theme of his message was that everyone should relax.
The Maple Leafs did and responded with one of their strongest efforts of the season, topping the Flyers 4-2.
Vesa Toskala made 28 saves, and Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov each had a goal and an assist to help Toronto won for the first time in six games.
"I think Brian did a good job to relax them from - I hate to be blunt - but the dumb questions you guys have been asking our players, that they're all going to be traded," coach Ron Wilson said. "Brian assured them that wasn't going to happen, and that's the best thing that he could have done."
The Maple Leafs looked strong from the opening whistle, showing a willingness to take the body and compete against one of the NHL's hottest teams. Philadelphia took its first regulation loss in three weeks.
Even some players acknowledged that Burke's arrival might have made a difference.
"As players, there's always going to be stuff that's going on that's going to distract you," Moore said. "If it's not one thing, it's another. That's the challenge that everybody faces, to play a focused game and not worry about surrounding things that are out of their control
"I think it's good that he's here and everybody can continue along the path that we're on."
Lee Stempniak and Pavel Kubina also had goals for Toronto (8-9-6). Mike Richards scored both for the Flyers (11-7-5). Philadelphia had won six straight before falling in overtime at home to Carolina on Friday.
Toskala helped make the difference. He stood tall during a couple of power plays in the third period, getting his glove on a fantastic chance by Simon Gagne from in close.
"The puck seems to hit me now and that's a nice feeling," Toskala said. "As a team, we played hard. It was really important to get a win now because we've had a losing streak going."
The Flyers lamented missed opportunities.
"I thought we hung in there," coach John Stevens said. "I thought we played hard and with a lot of energy and I thought we created enough chances to win. We just didn't find the net."
Playing for the second time in as many days, they also found a tough opponent. Clearly, a few of the Leafs are aware that Burke prefers a physical style of hockey.
Andre Deveaux and Jamal Mayers each engaged in fights during the first period, something Burke must have enjoyed as he watched from the press box.
"Our team plays a North American game, we're throwbacks," he said before the game. "We don't apologize for that. It's black and blue hockey."
The Leafs scored first when Stempniak netted his first goal since being acquired. He charged to the net, and Moore's hit his left skate and went in at 14:45 of the first period.
That provided for a player who arrived earlier this week in a trade with St. Louis.
"The toughest thing coming to a new team is you want to fit in with the guys and you want to contribute," Stempniak said. "It was great to score the first goal, especially in a win. It's definitely exciting."
The Maple Leafs were quick to note that it was just one win.
"Rebuilding won't be easy," Burke said. "When you change the general manager, you don't change the team. It will take some time and some effort. Changing the general manager doesn't change the roster."
"He can't turn water into wine any more than I can," Wilson said. "It's going to take some time to get everything into place."
Notes: Referee Dan Marouelli worked his 1,500th career game. ... Deveaux appeared in his second career NHL game for the Leafs. He's the first player born in the Bahamas to play in the league. ... Gagne has points in 19 of 22 games. ... Burke was a member of the Flyers organization during his playing days and won the Calder Cup in 1978 with Philadelphia's farm team in Maine.
|Lee Stempniak (4) ASST: Dominic Moore (6)|
1 - 0 TOR
|Mike Richards (7) ASST: Arron Asham (1), Andrew Alberts (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Nik Antropov (9) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 TOR
|Dominic Moore (5) ASST: Nik Antropov (9), Alexei Ponikarovsky (10)|
3 - 1 TOR
|SHG - Mike Richards (8) ASST: Simon Gagne (18), Ossi Vaananen (6)|
3 - 2 TOR
|Pavel Kubina (5) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 TOR
|Andre Deveaux Fighting (maj) against Josh Gratton|
|Josh Gratton Fighting (maj) against Andre Deveaux|
|Mikhail Grabovski Interference against Joffrey Lupul|
|Jamal Mayers Fighting (maj) against Arron Asham|
|Arron Asham Fighting (maj) against Jamal Mayers|
|Andrew Alberts Interference against Jeff Finger|
|Braydon Coburn Hi-sticking against Nik Antropov|
|Jeff Carter Hooking against Mikhail Grabovski|
|Dominic Moore Hi-sticking against Scott Hartnell|
|Andrew Alberts Tripping against Nikolai Kulemin|
|Dominic Moore Holding against Scottie Upshall|
|John Mitchell Hi-sticking against Joffrey Lupul|