White shows he can play through pain

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:16 PM ET

BUFFALO -- Ian White has a tattoo on his right breast that says "No regrets."

The Maple Leafs' rookie defenceman lived up to that last night.

White skated briefly in the morning and decided his sore leg, which was hit by a shot against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, was not going to let him play. But the Leafs training staff spent the day outfitting White's skate with more padding to alleviate the pressure. It worked.

White played more than 21 minutes and set up Mats Sundin for the Leafs' fourth goal against the Buffalo Sabres, and overall was excellent.White is not big, but his sense for the game should keep him around for a long time.

"I'm still trying to buy myself a full-time spot," White said. "With (Pavel Kubina) coming back (soon), I want to make an impression and hopefully stay around. I am improving every game."

Coach Paul Maurice was impressed with White's desire.

"After the morning skate he was not playing, but the trainers fixed him up," Maurice said. "He was outstanding. That's a great lesson for a young defenceman to learn, if you are going to go into a few games not feeling good. And he was still able to perform."

Maurice was happy with the Leafs' youth as a group. Kyle Wellwood had his 10th assist on a nice setup on Sundin's first goal, and Matt Stajan fed Jeff O'Neill for another. But it's not just the points. The youngsters are more comfortable in their own skin.

"We have seen a nice improvement in our young players," Maurice said. "I don't think we are looking at the young guys and saying if we weren't so young we would win more."


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