TORONTO – The Brian Burke Era is off to a pretty good start in Toronto.
Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov each had a goal and an assist Saturday as the Maple Leafs beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in front of their new president and general manager.
It was the first win in six games for Toronto and came against a team that hadn’t been beaten in regulation in three weeks.
Lee Stempniak and Pavel Kubina also had goals for Toronto (8-9-6) while Mike Richards had both in reply for the Flyers (11-7-5).
The sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre seemed to have a little extra energy on a big day for the Leafs organization, and cheered loudly when Burke was shown on the scoreboard.
The veteran hockey executive was introduced to the media during the afternoon and spoke to the players in the dressing room before the game. Clearly, a few of the Leafs know their new boss prefers physical hockey.
Andre Deveaux and Jamal Mayers each engaged in fights during the first period, something Burke must have enjoyed watching from the press box.
“Our team plays a North American game, we’re throwbacks,” he said before the game. “We don’t apologize for that. It’s black and blue hockey.”
The blue and white got on the scoreboard first when Stempniak collected his first goal for the team. He charged to the goal and had Moore’s pass go in off his left skate at 14:45 of the first period.
Richards tied the game 35 seconds later but the Leafs went back ahead during the second period. Antropov had goalie Martin Biron’s clearing attempt go off his face before he quickly backhanded the puck in at 2:55.
Moore extended the advantage to 3-1 when he stepped out of the penalty box and took a breakaway pass, crashing into the net after beating Biron with a deke at 8:43.
However, Richards narrowed it to 3-2 by scoring Philadelphia’s league-leading ninth short-handed goal of the season. He one-timed a nice pass from Simon Gagne behind Vesa Toskala at 17:23.
A week ago the Maple Leafs squandered a lead in the third period by playing tentatively against Chicago, but they kept coming on this night. Kubina wired a screened shot past Biron at 2:16 and Toskala stood tall during a couple of Flyers power plays, getting his glove on a fantastic Gagne chance from in close.
Toskala finished with 28 saves while putting in his second strong outing in a row.
The home crowd gave the team a nice ovation as time ticked away late in the game.
Toronto now heads out for a road trip that will take it through Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix next week. Burke will travel with the team and cautioned that changes will take time.
“Rebuilding won’t be easy,” he said. “When you change the general manager, you don’t change the team. It will take some time and some effort.
“Changing the general manager doesn’t change the roster.”
Notes: Referee Dan Marouelli worked his 1,500th career game … Announced attendance was 19,387 … Deveaux appeared in his second career NHL game for the Leafs. He’s the first player born in the Bahamas to play in the league … Gagne has points in 19 of 22 games this season … Burke was a member of the Flyers organization during his playing days and won the Calder Cup in 1978 with Philadelphia’s farm team in Maine … Former Leafs goalie Johnny Bower was interviewed on the scoreboard and asked how long he’d been married to wife Nancy. His response: “Too long.” Bower quickly added that it had been 60 years.