A golden moment

ROB LONGLEY

, Last Updated: 7:44 AM ET

Another night and another meeting with a former world junior teammate for Leafs top draft pick, Luke Schenn.

It didn't come with the fan-fare of Tampa's No. 1 overall draft pick, Steve Stamkos making his debut at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday, but Matt Halischuk has quite a connection with Schenn as well.

"I send him a text every once in a while and say 'Thanks for the gold medal, buddy,'" Schenn said.

The 20-year-old Toronto native, who played the past two seasons for the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, made his NHL debut last night, an emergency callup for the injury-riddled Devils.

Halischuk should be well known to Canadian hockey fans. Besides being a first-team all-star for the Rangers at this year's Memorial Cup, the Devils draft pick scored the winning goal for Canada in overtime of the gold medal game in last winter's world junior championship.

After a four-goal game for the Devils AHL affiliate in Lowell, Halischuk was a logical callup. And playing on a line with John Madden and Jay Pandolfo, he got the first point of his career, an assist on Colin White's second-period goal.

FACE FIRST

After struggling in the faceoff circle for the first handful of games, the Leafs have improved of late and Leafs coach Ron Wilson credits the boost to the work of assistant coach Keith Acton.

"Keith does a great job of watching the stuff on video with our players," Wilson said. "Just knowing the strengths an tendencies of the guys you are going against and just being absolutely determined."

The other factor is the persistent harping by the coaching staff of the importance of possession.

"I think our guys know how important we feel faceoffs are for puck possession and running plays," Wilson said. "That part of our game, like our penalty killing, has really improved."

BRIEFLY

Mike Van Ryn was walking with a limp prior to last night's game but on the ice he was just fine, prompting Wilson to keep the defenceman in the lineup. Van Ryn took a shot in the foot in Tuesday's loss against Tampa that required some stitches but after the pre-game skate was fit enough to go. That meant another night off for Carlo Colaiacovo, who was a healthy scratch for the fifth consecutive game ... Wilson opted to stick with Vesa Toskala in net despite his lifetime 0-3 record against the Devils ... Leafs forward Ryan Hollweg bit his tongue when asked about Tampa Bay centre Vincent Lecavalier's comments Tuesday suggesting that Hollweg has no respect around the league. "I have no comment on that," Hollweg said.


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