TORONTO - There should be no goaltending controversy here because Vesa Toskala looks very much like the No. 1 man for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Finn made several key saves that kept his team in the game during a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the rival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night. The boos Toskala heard at Air Canada Centre during the pre-season were quickly replaced by cheers.
While one game certainly won't earn him the job outright, it seems to be his for the taking. And getting his first win on home ice was a pretty good first step.
"I think everybody knew he had to do (that) in this building," said coach Paul Maurice. "I think the fans were interested and excited, and they certainly were sent home happy.
"I think this is a little bit different place to play for goaltenders. A little tougher on them."
Indeed, any man that finds himself tending goal in Toronto is bound to be compared to those who have come just before - Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph and Felix Potvin.
All three of those goalies regularly won games on their own and that's something Andrew Raycroft simply didn't do last season. He was good - Raycroft won a team-record 37 games - but his biggest fault seems to be that he wasn't great.
Toskala arrived in Toronto via an off-season trade with San Jose, where he platooned with Evgeni Nabokov but never held the No. 1 job. He and Raycroft are now in a similar situation, although Toskala should get the majority of the starts.
"Our goal here is to have one of our two goalies hot all the time," said Maurice. "We want to keep our hockey team in a position to do that. I won't leave anybody out too, too long but at the same time when a guy's playing well - a guy's playing well."
Expect Toskala to get the start on Tuesday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Toronto.
The Maple Leafs play eight of their first 10 games on home ice and have put an emphasis on having a good start to the season. They're 1-1-1 so far, which is pretty good given that two of those games were against the defending Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators.
One player they will be hoping to see more from in the coming games is newcomer Jason Blake. A 40-goal man a year ago on Long Island, Blake has yet to score in a Maple Leafs uniform.
"The good thing is I'm still getting chances," he said. "If you're not getting chances, then I think you need to re-evaluate. It'll come. For some reason every year (the puck) doesn't seem to go in right away for me.
"Actually, my wife reminded me today that last year I didn't score in the first five games. It's just one of those things. I'm not going to be pushing the panic button by any means."
He was moved off the top line during the game against Montreal, but it's likely not a permanent change. Blake will probably be back skating with Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov against the Hurricanes.
Playing a third game in four nights, Maurice was simply trying to get more from his forwards. It worked as Alexei Ponikarovsky scored twice while playing alongside Sundin to erase a 3-1 deficit before defenceman Tomas Kaberle scored the winner in overtime.
None of that would have been possible had Toskala not shut the door on the Habs.
"The fact of the matter is our goaltender gave us a chance to win," said Maurice.
The crowd responded by getting behind Toskala. If he plays a few more games like that, the Air Canada Centre will be filled with new jerseys bearing his name and the No. 35.
His new teammates are taking note.
"That was awesome, really nice to see the fans behind him like that," said Kaberle. "He's going to be like that for us all year."