Rask 1, Maple Leafs 0

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

When a gleeful Tuukka Rask waved to the appreciative crowd at the Air Canada Centre after being named the game's first star, he may as well have pointed up to the Maple Leafs management box and said: "I told you so!"

The normally soft-spoken rookie of the Boston Bruins understandably could not hide his enthusiasm after last night's 4-2 come-from-behind victory over Vesa Toskala's Maple Leafs.

By stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced in his NHL debut, Rask, 20, hoped to send a message to the Leafs, the team that drafted him 21st overall in the 2005 entry draft and traded him to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft one year later.

"This is really sweet," a beaming Rask said.

"This means a lot. It was fun to play and show (the Leafs) I can play at this level."

Even with his team down 2-0, Rask was impressed by the way his teammates battled back, scoring four unanswered goals in what was yet another third-period collapse by the Leafs.

"I was a little nervous, this being my first NHL game. But once I stepped onto the ice, that was all gone and I was ready," Rask said.

"I really liked the way the guys played. They kept fighting, and scored goals when we needed them. It was great."

Just down the corridor from where Rask was holding court, a subdued Vesa Toskala was trying to figure out what went wrong.

Having trained with Rask during the summer in Tampere, Finland, the veteran Toskala held the upper hand through the first 39 minutes. Goals by Bryan McCabe and Mats Sundin had the Leafs ahead by two entering the final minute of the second.

But a Phil Kessel power-play goal with 48 seconds left snapped Toskala's personal-best shutout streak at 141 minutes, 47 seconds. More importantly, it allowed the Bruins to go into the second intermission trailing just by 2-1, siphoning any momentum the Leafs may have enjoyed to that point.

After P.J. Axelsson tied the game at 2-2 midway through the third, Chuck Kobasew's stoppable shot squeezed past Toskala on the short side with 3:31 remaining in regulation to give Boston its first lead of the night. Kobasew added an empty-net goal in the final minute.

"(Vesa's) got to have that third one," Leafs coach Paul Maurice said of Kobasew's winner.

"He just beat me under my arm," Toskala said. "It's very disappointing."

THUMBS UP

As for his young understudy at the other end of the rink, Toskala gave Rask a decisive thumbs up.

"He looked good to me," Toskala said.

As he celebrated his milestone night, Rask remembered the call he received from the Leafs 17 months ago telling him he was bound for Beantown.

"It was a national holiday in Finland called Festival. I was at a cottage with some friends when phone rang at about 3 a.m.

"I didn't feel anything right at that moment. But the next day, I was surprised."

Last night, he got a semblance of sweet revenge.

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

With 3:31 left, Chuck Kobasew drained the winning goal past Vesa Toskala, completing a comeback in which the Leafs blew a 2-0 lead.

Stat OF THE GAME

Tomas Kaberle's helper on Mats Sundin's second-period goal was the 300th of his illustrious career. Now if only coach Paul Maurice could get Kaberle to shoot more.

GAME STAR

Tuukka Rask. The Leafs' first-round pick in 2005 turned aside 29 shots en route to winning his NHL debut.

OOPS

Both of the Maple Leaf goals, scored by Bryan McCabe and Mats Sundin respectively, appeared to go into the net off Boston players.


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