Steen draws high praise

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere thwarts a scoring attempt by the Toronto...

Mighty Ducks of Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere thwarts a scoring attempt by the Toronto Maple Leafs' Alex Steen, who did score later in the game. (Toronto Sun/Ernest Doroszuk)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Life was grand for Alex Steen as a wide-eyed boy growing up in Winnipeg.

Teemu Selanne would fire pucks at him in the dressing room at the Winnipeg Arena.

Randy Carlyle, whose son Craig was Alex's best friend, watched the Steen kid play hockey "about 200 times."

Selanne and Carlyle were teammates of Alex's father, Thomas Steen, with the Winnipeg Jets. Both admit being quite fond of young Alex.

Until last night, that is.

Now all grown up, Alex showed little regard for his dad's buddies, who came to town as members of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

With his banged-up Maple Leafs missing regulars Ed Belfour and Eric Lindros because of injury, Steen and goalie Mikael Tellqvist stepped into the limelight and led Toronto a 3-2 win over the Ducks.

The victory snapped Toronto's three-game losing skid, much to the chagrin of , Ducks coach Carlyle.

Further rubbing salt into the wound was the fact that Steen, the same kid who regularly would hang out at the Carlyle household and play video games with Craig, scored the winning goal at 11:31 of the second period.

"He's going to be a special player in this league," Carlyle said.

Selanne echoed the glowing praise of his coach.

"Alex has so much poise out there. He really does remind me of his father," Selanne said. "He doesn't play like a rookie, either. He has so much confidence and he's not afraid in the least.

"When you get beaten by a guy whose dad once played alongside you, well, maybe it's time to retire."

That would be a bit premature, considering Selanne upped his season goals total to 16 last night.

But even that wasn't enough to overcome the Leafs, who don't play again until Saturday against the Senators in Ottawa.

"We needed this,"Steen said. "I don't think we've been playing that badly but finally the puck started going in the net for us.

"Mikael played great, too. He really gave us a lift."

Belfour was slated to start in goal but was scratched with a groin injury. Enter Tellqvist, who stopped 27 shots to up his record to 4-2-1.

"I was nervous because I hadn't played many games at the ACC, but it's a good feeling right now," Tellqvist said afterward. "I think we were going to win with Eddie in net anyway. I just tried to do my job and look forward to my next start."

Tellqvist is poised to step in again if need be, although coach Pat Quinn said Belfour might be back in time to face the Sens.

"The the job of a backup is to be ready," Tellqvist said.

Kyle Wellwood and Tomas Kaberle also scored for the Leafs, who snapped a 2-for-22 slump with the man advantage by registering a pair of power-play goals.

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REPORT CARD

B Forwards: Another dry night for Mats Sundin, but Kyle Wellwood scored for the first time in exactly a month, the power play clicked twice, with Alex Steen getting a beauty.

C+ Defence: Aki Berg took three minors, the six-man unit stumbled around a few times and gave the puck away too easily on some breakouts. But their penalty killing held all night.

B- Goaltending: Mikael Tellqvist wasn't supposed to start, but posted his second win in a row with Teemu Selanne buzzing around and a couple of big stops on screens.


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