Tough stuff avoided

LANCE HORNBY

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

A couple of Leafs didn't exactly distinguish themselves in the fisticuffs department on Thursday in Boston, but they certainly had their reasons.

Winger Alex Steen wisely stayed on the ice after Bruins' 6-foot-9, 251-pound behemoth Zdeno Chara cross-checked him in the back and stood menacingly over him for a few seconds. Chara was ticked that Steen had bumped Boston goalie Tim Thomas not long after Matt Stajan had driven hard to the net for a goal. Steen remembered how Chara had rag-dolled teammate Bryan McCabe a couple of years ago.

"I'd seen that and I've seen some other things he'd done," Steen said. "I didn't want to get into that. I understood how (Chara) felt, but I had lost my balance and I was still trying to get out of Thomas's way."

In the third period, with Toronto rolling towards an 8-2 win, Marco Sturm of the Bruins and Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky exchanged slashes, leading to Boston's Shane Hnidy going after the bigger Leaf and pummeling him into the turtle position.

"I didn't want to sprain my shoulder again ... that's why I was polite," explained Ponikarovsky, who once fought Buffalo enforcer Rob Ray.

Asked if he should replace traded enforcer Wade Belak, Ponikarovsky cracked "I'll have to take some (boxing) lessons."

The 6-foot-6 Nik Antropov stepped into some scrums a couple of times on Thursday and coach Paul Maurice is satisfied his team isn't lacking courage.

"If you get a herd mentality going, you'll do all right," Maurice said.

SALUTE TO MORO TOMORROW

Toronto-born Marc Moro, the Marlies' first captain and an ex-Leaf, will be honoured in a pre-game ceremony tomorrow before the AHL team's game against Syracuse at 4 p.m.

Moro was also the captain of the St. John's Maple Leafs from 2004-05, was voted a Marlies MVP and was the club's community service award winner.

LOOSE LEAFS

The Leafs are 9-0 when scoring at least two power-play goals in a game ... No Leaf has reached 100 penalty minutes yet this season, though Antropov is at 86. The last season without a 100-PIM man was 1967-68 when Tim Horton and Pete Stemkowski finished tied at 82.


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