Hanson is Devilishly good

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. -- It will take some doing to match the fame of his cult-hero father, but Chris Hanson has already caught the old man in another way.

In just his third game as a Leaf, Hanson scored his first goal last night, helping his new team to a 4-1 win over the Devils.

Besides the obvious thrill for the rookie, Hanson can now hold it over his father Dave, who became legend for his role in the film Slap Shot, that they are tied in career NHL scoring.

"And he played 30 more games than me," the younger Hanson said with a smile, referring to his old man, whose NHL career was limited to 33 games over parts of two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars.

Hanson also was able to enjoy his first win as a pro, thanks largely to Martin Gerber, who blocked 47 of 48 shots and was often spectacular in the Toronto net.

Better yet for the former NCAA player, Hanson's goal came against his childhood idol, New Jersey's hall of famer in waiting, Martin Brodeur, who had a horrible night for the Devils.

Hanson, who was a goalie as a child, has a Brodeur stash that would do any collectibles dealer proud, including a stick, jersey and autographed picture.

"He's definitely the greatest goalie of all time, my favourite player growing up so for that to happen it was kind of surreal," Hanson said of the maiden breaker which came on a backhand off a Jason Blake rebound.

It was a surreal night for Gerber as well. While stopping almost everything fired his way, at the other end, Brodeur made just 14 saves on 18 shots, raising alarm among the playoff-bound Devils.

"We got off some quick shots on turnovers and surprised (Brodeur) a little bit," Wilson said. "We were throwing pucks at him, using him as a rebound board and a couple found a way in."

After a couple rough outings, Gerber had a chance to showcase himself if not for Leafs management, for other teams in the market for a reliable backup.

"I just try not to think about (the future) too much," Gerber said. "I'm enjoying the opportunity (provided) by the Leafs and hopefully something will happen out of this."

Despite the wide margin in shots on net, the Leafs opened up a 3-0 lead on first-period goals by Hanson, Mikhail Grabovski and Jeff Hamilton.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored the lone Devils goal late in the second but any comeback threat was squashed 1:33 into the third by another Leafs rookie, John Mitchell, who scored his 12th of the season.


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