TORONTO - A new face behind the bench didn't reverse the fortunes of the New York Rangers.
Nikolai Kulemin scored the shootout winner on Wednesday as the Toronto Maple Leafs spoiled John Tortorella's debut with a 2-1 victory. The Leafs rookie beat Henrik Lundqvist with the team's first attempt and watched as goalie Vesa Toskala turned aside all three shots against him.
Niklas Hagman scored in regulation for Toronto (23-26-12).
Wade Redden replied for the Rangers (31-23-8).
Tortorella hasn't had much time to work with his new team. He replaced Tom Renney on Monday and only had one full practice with the Rangers before they travelled to Toronto.
Even still, New York put together a better effort than it did during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs on Sunday. The visitors outplayed their opponents for large stretches on Wednesday and deserved a better fate.
It was a tedious opening 20 minutes as both teams fumbled the puck around and failed to generate any top-quality scoring chances. The most interesting moment came a little over six minutes in when Ian White and Markus Naslund dropped the gloves for a brief fight.
Neither of those players can be confused as heavyweights. In fact, it was Naslund's first fighting major since December 1993, when he squared off with Hartford's Randy Cunneyworth during his rookie season.
Another long streak came to an end in the second period when Redden opened the scoring. The much-maligned defenceman beat Toskala with a long shot at 10:26, giving him his first goal in 58 games.
Redden was one of New York's prized off-season additions and will be one of the players Tortorella tries to spark over the final 20 games.
The game started to open up after he made it 1-0, with Toskala sprawling across his crease to stop a couple chances from Petr Prucha before Toronto's Lee Stempniak hit the post at the other end.
New York's lead carried into the third period and was starting to look like it might stand up until Hagman essentially created a goal out of nothing. He made a quick move coming out of the corner and beat Lundqvist to the glove side at 10:21.
Suddenly, the Leafs had some life.
Tortorella responded by calling a timeout and that seemed to calm things down, setting the stage for the second overtime between the teams in four days.
Notes: Mark Bell didn't dress for the Rangers after being claimed on waivers earlier in the day from Toronto ... Boyd Devereaux was a healthy scratch for the Maple Leafs ... Toronto's John Mitchell and Jeff Finger each left the game with upper-body injuries ... Tortorella is the 34th coach in Rangers history ... Announced attendance at Air Canada Centre was 19,383.