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Who was that? Three unknowns give their struggling teams a big lift @NHLdotcom

It was a good night to be an unknown, unheralded, unheard-of player in the NHL.

Jiri Tlusty, Nigel Dawes, and Dan Ellis helped pick up their struggling teams with key contributions Thursday night.

Tlusty scored twice to lead Toronto to a 5-2 win at Pittsburgh that helped the Maple Leafs shake off an early-season slump, Dawes scored twice for New York in a 2-0 win over New Jersey that snapped a four-game losing streak, and Ellis stopped 20 shots to give Nashville a 3-0 home win over Atlanta that ended the Predators' six-game losing streak.

Not too bad for a trio of players who now have 18 games of experience in the league between them.

"The NHL was my dream, now I've played in my first game and in my first game I scored my first two goals," said the 19-year-old Tlusty, the No. 13 overall pick in 2006 from the Czech Republic. "It's great."

In other NHL games Thursday night, it was: Columbus 3, St. Louis 0; Phoenix 1, Anaheim 0; Los Angeles 2, Dallas 1; Edmonton 5, Minnesota 4; Tampa Bay 5, Philadelphia 2; and Boston 3, Chicago 1.

Tlusty, who couldn't sleep after general manager John Ferguson called at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday to tell him to report to the Maple Leafs' practice that day, made an immediate impact on a team that had allowed 22 goals in its four most recent losses. He scored two goals 35 seconds apart during a four-goal flurry in the third period, although his first goal was originally credited to Alexander Steen.

Tlusty deflected Steen's 35-footer over Fleury's left shoulder 1:45 into the third, then scored on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.

"I closed my eyes and took the shot and said, 'We'll see,' and it went in," Tlusty said of his second goal, which he thought was his first.

The Maple Leafs kept the puck from that goal, thinking it was his first, but apparently did not retrieve the puck from what became his first goal.

At Madison Square Garden, Dawes scored in the opening minute and then took the tension away with 3:53 left as the Rangers shook off consecutive 1-0 defeats.

"Just keep shooting," said Dawes, who has three NHL goals in 12 career games. "I didn't think quick (goal), but we definitely wanted a good start."

It was almost the third straight 1-0 decision for the Rangers (3-5-1). Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has started all nine games, earned a shutout Saturday in a shootout loss at Boston and took a tough defeat in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Ellis, meanwhile, was making his second NHL start. His first was Feb. 8, 2004, when he beat Los Angeles as a member of the Dallas Stars.

This season, he had come on to relieve No. 1 goalie Chris Mason three times already. But Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he made the decision to start the backup in this game at the beginning of the season, before the Predators went on a six-game losing streak.

"Dan was real solid," Trotz said. "He didn't leave any rebounds. He made a couple of big saves when we needed them."

Ellis said he does not expect to be in goal in the next game against Florida.

"That's up to the coaches," Ellis said. "If I don't start I will go back to being our No. 1 fan."

Rick Nash scored a goal in his fifth straight game on a shot between his legs, and Pascal Leclaire stopped 36 shots for host Columbus.

Jared Boll had a goal and Jiri Novotny was awarded a goal. Novotny was skating in on an empty net late in the game when he was hooked from behind by Eric Brewer, the officials awarding the goal to Novotny - his fourth goal in five games.

Leclaire, who came into the season with one career shutout, is one shutout away from tying the team's season mark of five.

Rookie Craig Weller scored his first NHL goal and Alex Auld had his third career shutout.

The victory ended the Coyotes' 10-game losing streak against the Ducks in Anaheim dating to the 2003-2004 season. They also beat Anaheim goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for just the second time in his nine games against them.

Alexander Frolov scored the go-ahead goal and Jason LaBarbera made 29 saves, snapping host Los Angeles' nine-game losing streak to the Stars.

Brian Willsie scored for Los Angeles, which has won four of five since opening the season 1-5. The win was their first over Dallas since April 1, 2006, a 1-0 victory at Staples Center.

Jere Lehtinen scored for Dallas and Marty Turco made 28 saves, 18 in the second period. Turco moved into third place on the franchise's all-time list for games played by a goaltender behind Cesare Maniago (420) and Giles Meloche (328).

Ales Hemsky scored twice in regulation and added the shootout winner to help Edmonton end a two-game losing skid a win over visiting Minnesota.

Shawn Horcoff also scored twice and added two assists for Edmonton (4-6-0), which won for just the second time in its past eight games.

James Sheppard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish scored for Minnesota (7-1-2), which lost for the second consecutive night, but has still points in all but one of its games this season.

In Tampa, Fla., Brad Richards had two goals and Vinny Prospal scored his eighth goal of the season.

Jason Ward and Michel Ouellet also scored for the Lightning, who tied a franchise record set in 2002 by starting the season 5-0 at home.

Philadelphia got goals from Jeff Carter and Mike Knuble.

Phil Kessel scored two goals and Tim Thomas made 26 saves to help Boston to its fifth win in six games.

Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin hasn't won in Boston since 1996.

Kessel scored 2:08 into the second period on an end-to-end rush. Jonathan Toews tied the game at 5:13 of the second for eight points in his last eight games.

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