Victory proves costly

Leafs Van Ryn after a boarding call from Kostopoulos during the first period of the Nov. 8 game....

Leafs Van Ryn after a boarding call from Kostopoulos during the first period of the Nov. 8 game. (Alex Urosevic/SUN MEDIA)

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

The storied rivalry between the Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens got a black eye last night.

A 6-3 Toronto victory, during which the home side outplayed Les Glorieux by a hefty margin, was marred in the first period when Leafs defenceman Mike Van Ryn was sent to hospital with a concussion, broken nose and broken left hand after he was smashed from behind into the boards by Canadiens forward Tom Kostopoulos. Later in the period, Leafs rookie defenceman Luke Schenn went hard into the boards when he was tripped by Andrei Kostitsyn.

Van Ryn, who was knocked out on the play, will be out for at least a month. Schenn was not hurt.

"We have to find a way to get these head shots out of the game," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "You can't say players should not turn. His job is to go back and get the puck. It's the responsibility of the guys coming in to see if the person is vulnerable and not take advantage of that. That's common sense, isn't it?"

Kostopoulos trotted out the usual excuse that he was just trying to finish his check. There's no doubt the five-minute boarding major he was assessed, as well as a game misconduct, helped put the game in the Leafs' control.

Niklas Hagman scored the first of his two goals during that power play and though the Canadiens later tied the game 3-3, they were dominated by the Leafs at even-strength and really never stood a chance. The Leafs had a 41-20 shots advantage, the 11th game in a row they've outshot their opponent.

Wilson was just as concerned about the Kostitsyn trip on Schenn. Not to be outdone, Kostitsyn's brother, Sergei, later took a run at Mikhail Grabovski and tried to get at the former Canadien. It's simply not the way the Habs, who had lost once in regulation before the game, play hockey.

"There were a few dangerous situations," Wilson said. "The one that was scarier was Luke crashing into the boards.

The league will look at this stuff and decide what they have to do."

The Leafs, with a new coach and a slew of young players forging a new identity in Toronto, couldn't have cared less that part of the Hockey Hall of Fame festivities this weekend include honouring the Canadiens on their 100th anniversary.

Ugly incidents aside, the Leafs snapped a three-game losing streak and will embark on a western Canadian swing that starts Tuesday in Calgary brimming with confidence. For a change, the Leafs built a 2-0 lead, and though the Canadiens erased it with two power-play goals, Toronto scored four of the next five goals to avenge an embarrassing loss to Montreal in their home opener last month.

Grabovski was excellent against his old club, extending his goal-scoring streak to four games, and the line of Matt Stajan between Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky combined for seven points, led by a goal and two assists by Antropov. Pavel Kubina blocked a team-high four shots and had a goal and an assist. His slapshot on a power-play early in the third that got past Carey Price gave the Leafs a nice cushion and a 5-3 lead.

Kubina said a pre-game ceremony that honoured members of the Hall of Fame as well as some of Canada's war veterans hit him in the heart.

"It does not get any better than to beat Montreal at home on Saturday night," Kubina said. "That was inspiring and it meant a lot. We have been playing so great five-on-five, and Vesa (Toskala) was solid in net."

Carlo Colaiacovo made a rare appearance in the lineup, as fellow defencemen Anton Stralman and Jonas Frogren sat out. Van Ryn's injury might lead to a rotation of the three.

"Huge confidence boost," Hagman said of the win. "We managed to play pretty good for the whole 60 minutes against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference."

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

Defenceman Pavel Kubina's goal early in the third period put the Leafs in a comfortable spot and they were able to hang on for their first win in four games. A great deke by Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky with less than four minutes to play put the game on ice.

SPECIAL CEREMONY

In honour of Remembrance Day and the Hall of Fame weekend, the Leafs pulled out the stops during a pre-game ceremony. Sixteen Hall members, including Borje Salming, Lanny McDonald and Ted Lindsay, were introduced, as well as four of Canada's war veterans. The four 2008 Hall inductees -- Igor Larionov, Glenn Anderson, Ray Scapinello and the late Ed Chynoweth (represented by his son, Dean Chynoweth) -- then were introduced. Former Leaf Gaye Stewart read the historic poem In Flanders Fields, and Canadian Army Reserve member Scotty Newlands sang the national anthem.

WELCOME BACK

Though several members of the Hall of Fame were interviewed during stoppages in play and shown on the video scoreboard, the loudest cheers were for Dave (Tiger) Williams, who was shown in the press box with Darryl Sittler.


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