Leafs earn road win

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Bryan McCabe is alive and well.

For those who were beginning to wonder, the Maple Leafs defenceman demonstrated last night he still knows where the opposition's net is located.

Signed to a five-year, $28.75-million US contract in the off-season, McCabe scored his first goal after going 25 games without one as the Leafs recorded their first win in this National Hockey League backwater with a 4-2 victory against the Blue Jackets.

But McCabe, who also was good defensively after taking a couple of dumb stick penalties, was happier that his club responded well after a lame performance in a loss to Colorado two nights earlier.

"That's what good teams do," said McCabe, who also had an assist and was named first star. "You can't get in funks and lose three or four in a row. Teams that do that don't make the playoffs.

"I was not too worried about (not scoring). It was nice to get one. You start squeezing the stick a little bit when you're not scoring but there was no self-doubt at all."

Michael Peca celebrated his 700th NHL game with his first goal as a Leaf -- the winner no less -- and Kyle Wellwood and John Pohl also scored for Toronto. Andrew Raycroft had another solid performance with 23 saves.

Manny Malhotra and Alexander Svitov scored for Columbus.

And sources indicated that general manager John Ferguson will indeed be around to cultivate the team and staff he has put together. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. president Richard Peddie and Ferguson are said to be working toward a contract extension for the latter.

It was just Toronto's second game in the Ohio state capital and its first visit since March 20, 2003, when the Blue Jackets registered a 4-3 overtime win.

The Leafs will face Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and the New York Rangers tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

If they play like they did for the most part last night, coach Paul Maurice won't complain. Maurice had high praise for the fourth line of Pohl between Bates Battaglia and Ben Ondrus, and was thrilled with his penalty killers. The Leafs killed all seven Blue Jackets chances and have not allowed a power-play goal in three games, killing the past 16 opportunities.

"I thought our goaltending was good early (when big saves were needed to keep the Leafs in it), I thought our penalty killing was good all night and I thought our fourth line won us the game," Maurice said. "Our defence did a really good job. Some of those guys can fly and they are hard to handle."

The Leafs put the game out of reach for the home side with two goals in a 34-second span late in the second period to go up 3-1. The second was by Peca, who was set up by Alex Steen. Chad Kilger fished the puck out of the net behind goalie Pascal Leclaire for Peca.

"Any time you score you feel good, especially the first one of the season,"Peca said.

"I've felt comfortable right from the first day of training camp, unlike last year. I feel good with where my game is."


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