Road to redemption

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Brian Burke might not be big on Europeans, but even the vociferous Burke would have a hard time arguing with the play of a certain Finn last night.

Hours after Burke agreed to terms to become the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs, goaltender Vesa Toskala was the reason the Leafs got out of the nation's capital with a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Let's hope Burke, who was in Boston celebrating the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday with family, had time to duck out of dinner and watch his new goalie in action.

"That was by far Vesa's best game (of the season)," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "They have some great offensive players and he was ready for the task. We played a lot tighter in our own end, but the times they did have some point-blank plays he was Johnny on the spot."

Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson scored for Ottawa in the shootout before 19,703 at Scotiabank Place. Alex Auld stopped the Leafs' Nikolai Kulemin and Lee Stempniak.

But what bugged Toskala was the inability to drive his teammates both points. Even with Toskala's outstanding performance -- he made 34 saves as the Leafs were outshot 35-26 and saw their team record of 17 games in a row without being outshot end -- Toronto lost for the ninth time in 11 games. And it's enduring its second five-game losing streak this season.

"I think I made a few good saves and helped us to the shootout, but I feel bad that we did not get two points," Toskala said. "I think luck was a little bit on my side. Sometimes the puck hits you and sometimes not. Seriously. That's how it is."

Mike Fisher and Kulemin traded goals in the first period.

In the third, Toskala made a sharp save on Nick Foligno, and then robbed Chris Kelly at the side of the net. Later, he got the best of Dany Heatley and then took a goal away from Jesse Winchester when he came across the crease.

Toskala, in his 200th NHL game, got into the Senators' heads. When he made a point-blank save on Heatley in the second period, the Sens sniper smacked his stick on the boards and had to go to the bench to get new one.

With four minutes remaining, Auld made a huge save on Jamal Mayers, who had an open net.

The latest instalment of the Battle of Ontario (though it's weird to call what has become a tame rivalry between a couple of weak sisters in the Eastern Conference a battle) had some big hits, but the overall intensity was not high.

The Leafs' Andre Deveaux, playing in his first NHL game, nearly scored on a wraparound on his first shift. The 6-foot-4, 217-pounder had six goals and 54 penalty minutes with the Toronto Marlies. Deveaux filled in for Jason Blake, who is day to day with headaches and a stiff neck after he was drilled to the ice Tuesday against the Atlanta Thrashers, and did not look lost. Deveaux had 11 minutes 34 seconds of ice time.

"There were a couple of times I asked (Jarkko) Ruutu to (fight), but we all know what type of player he is," Deveaux said. "I didn't want to drop my gloves first. I thought I did my job, but it would have been nice to pull out a win."

Wilson was impressed with Deveaux, who fits the mould of what Burke likes.

"He was everything we wanted him to be," Wilson said. "He was physical, talked to the other team and he had a couple of great chances. That is something we have been lacking, a player no one wants to mess with, but can play."

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REPLAY

FIRST FOR ROOKIE

Andre Deveaux became a piece of NHL history just by stepping on the ice last night. Deveaux, born in the Bahamas in 1984 when his mother Joanne was there on a medical internship, became the first person born in the tropical island country to play in the NHL.

MOORE? REALLY?

Something must be getting Dominic Moore angry. He tussled with teammate Jeff Finger in practice on Wednesday and then dropped his gloves to fight Senators defenceman Jason Smith during the second period. Moore, not a heavyweight, let alone a middleweight, and Smith were given roughing minors and fighting majors.

FROGREN HEALING

Defenceman Jonas Frogren, who tore an arm muscle in two places against the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday, expects to return to the ice today or tomorrow.

"I just have to be careful with it," Frogren said after an off-ice workout at Scotiabank Place. Frogren is expected to be out six weeks, but does not require surgery.

STREAK ENDS

The Maple Leafs ended a team-record 17-game stretch without being outshot.

POINT-GETTERS

Toronto G A P

Nikolai Kulemin 1 0 1

Mikhail Grabovski 0 1 1

Niklas Hagman 0 1 1

Ottawa

Mike Fisher 1 0 1

Shean Donovan 0 1 1

Jarkko Ruutu 0 1 1

NEXT UP

Tomorrow -- 7 p.m.; Maple Leafs vs. Philadelphia Flyers; CBC, AM 640


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