Fast Steen impresses

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said the best player on his new top line could have been the guy who didn't get any points in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"The others (Mats Sundin and Jason Blake) had the points, but Alex Steen might have been the best player," Maurice said of the young right winger. "He had the speed and he was handling the puck well."

Blake had three points, his best outing in two months, while Sundin had a breakaway goal that was due in large part to Blake winning a board battle. But Maurice's observation was how Steen's drive had the Lightning looking every which way and creating some room for the others.

Another part of Maurice's shakeup saw Nik Antropov move to centre between Alexei Ponikarovsky and Boyd Devereaux. That trio looks like it needs more practice time together, but the third line of Chad Kilger, Matt Stajan and Darcy Tucker excited the coach.

"That gave us the opportunity to play a three-line game," Maurice said. "I had more confidence in that third line than I have in a long time."

GREAT SCOTT

Goalie Scott Clemmensen's shootout performance was all the more remarkable considering it came against the big three of Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards and also that he had not been involved in any of the AHL Marlies' four shootouts this season. Only Lecavalier, the NHL's leading scorer, beat him.

"I watched myself on the replay and looked like a cardboard cutout on that one," Clemmensen said. "I thought Richards would shoot high (he didn't) so I had my stick off the ice. I was lucky with his and with St. Louis."

PENGUINS PANDEMONIUM

After playing before almost 72,000 and a national TV audience in the Winter Classic, the Penguins might have a hard time getting fired up for the Leafs tonight. Maurice watched some of the Pittsburgh-Buffalo snowball fight on Tuesday.

"Hopefully, they won't be thawed out," Maurice said with a grin. "Penguins like the cold, don't they? One of my children said that."


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