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Leafs improve to 2-0 under Burke

by Brian Compton /
A few thoughts while Jacques Lemaire blowtorches Monday's game tape:

Two good to be true -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have played two games since Brian Burke was named the team's new general manager. The losses are nowhere to be found.

Trailing 1-0 after two periods Monday night, the Leafs scored three times in the third -- including a pair on the power play -- en route to a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

Toronto took advantage of some golden opportunities in the third. Matt Stajan erased a 1-0 deficit by converting on a two-man advantage, while Mikhail Grabovski put the Leafs in front with another power-play goal just 81 seconds later.

Combine that with the splendid goaltending of Vesa Toskala -- who stopped all 26 shots he faced over the final two periods -- and you have a Leafs team that has won back-to-back games. It was also Toronto's first win ever at the Staples Center; the Leafs' last victory in Los Angeles came at the Great Western Forum on March 12, 1998.

"The early part of the game was a matter of us going post to post and finding our legs," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "The Kings were all over us, but once we settled down we got back into our 'throw-the-puck-back-into-the-net' kind of a game. Obviously, we got some huge saves and with goaltending like that you have a very good chance of winning."

The Leafs will look to make it three in a row Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion. Nothing like a good test.

Dirty living -- Considering how Pekka Rinne and Ryan Miller were playing Monday night, Nashville Predators forward Jason Arnott knew it was going to take an ugly goal to secure a victory.

After two scoreless periods, the Preds' captain chipped the puck past Miller eight minutes into the third en route to a 2-0 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena. Rinne stopped all 30 shots he faced for his first NHL shutout.

''That was one of the goals that was going to do it,'' said Arnott, who now has 13 goals this season. ''It just wasn't happening for both ends. There was a lot of defensive plays.''

Because it was so tight defensively, Rinne didn't have to stand on his head to keep the puck out of his net. Nonetheless, he is 4-0 this season and 5-1 since arriving in the NHL.

''I've played in a lot of tight games, so this was pretty normal,'' Rinne said. ''There wasn't any extra pressure on me. I just had to do my own job.''

He did just that, allowing the Predators to move forward after Saturday night's dreadful 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild, who scored five power-play goals.

''We really made (that) an emphasis because we weren't very disciplined at home and it cost us a hockey game,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ''I like the way our guys responded. It says a lot about our team.''

Super Steve
-- The Columbus Blue Jackets need something -- or someone -- special if they're going to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

While Rick Nash certainly fits the bill, rookie goaltender Steve Mason has been nothing short of sensational since being promoted from the American Hockey League.

Mason stopped 29 shots in Monday night's 3-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena to improve to 6-2-1 this season. While it was a frantic final two minutes, Mason kept his cool and helped the Blue Jackets win their first game this season after allowing the first goal.

The Canucks peppered him with shots while on the power play late in the game after pulling goaltender Cory Schneider for a two-man advantage. Mason's best save came with his glove on the ice on a shot by Kyle Wellwood, who had Vancouver's first goal. The Canucks put four shots on goal, had two others go just wide and had another blocked before the final horn sounded, when Mason thrust his arms in the air.

''It was definitely a big scrum,'' Mason said. ''It was a lot of fun to be a part of, especially since we came out on the winning end. It's not nice taking a penalty with about two minutes to go, but we did a great job killing it off.''

What was that? -- It’s not often we see Minnesota suffer from defensive lapses. Honestly, the Wild fold in their own zone about as much as Rosie O'Donnell says, "No thanks … I'm full."

For whatever reason, though, the Wild struggled mightily in their own end in a 6-5 loss Monday to the Colorado Avalanche at the Xcel Energy Center.

That's right -- the Wild scored 5 times. And lost.

Four of Colorado's tallies came in the second period, as the Avs were able to chase Niklas Backstrom after 40 minutes.

''Worst two periods that I've seen,'' Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. ''We made so many mistakes there in the first and second and we lost confidence a bit.''

While the stats (six goals on 26 shots) suggest Backstrom struggled, Lemaire was not about to blame his No. 1 goaltender. Josh Harding started the third period and stopped all five shots he faced.

''If Backstrom hadn't been good tonight, they would've scored 10,'' Lemaire said.

Patience is a virtue -- Sooner or later, the Detroit Red Wings were going to solve Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

It took 32 shots, but Johan Franzen did just that in the second period for his 100th NHL point. With Giguere forced to leave after the second due to dehydration, Marian Hossa beat Jonas Hiller early in the third to lift the Wings to a 2-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena on Monday night.

Most teams would have been frustrated by Giguere's performance over the first two periods, as he stopped 37 of 38 shots. But there's a reason the Red Wings are the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"We tried to stay patient," said Hossa. "We were, I think, all over them and we outshoot them. It was just a matter of time when the one squeezed in."

''I've played in a lot of tight games, so this was pretty normal. There wasn't any extra pressure on me. I just had to do my own job.''  -- Pekka Rinne
When the final horn sounded, the shots on goal were 47-16 in favor of Detroit. Obviously, the score wasn't an indication of how the game played out.

"We were really good," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't give up very much at all. I thought Giguere was outstanding for them, but I really thought we came at them wave after wave. When people ask who the hardest-working team in the League is, we want everyone to say us. I don't think for 60 minutes every night that it's been us, but tonight I thought we played 60 minutes and ended up getting a good win."

Detroit plays the second of a four-game homestand Thursday night against Vancouver. With a third of their road schedule already in the books, the Red Wings know they have a golden opportunity to come away with a lot of points on home ice. On Monday night, a strong effort allowed them to earn a victory against a team that had won its previous four games.

"Our schedule is in our favor, but we have to do something about it," Babcock said. "That means work ethic every day."
Contact Brian Compton at:

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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