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Kulemin stars in debut as Maple Leafs edge Red Wings

DETROIT (Ticker) -- Nikolai Kulemin's NHL debut could not have

gone any better.

Kulemin scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and Vesa

Toskala made 35 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs opened the

season with a 3-2 triumph over the reigning Stanley Cup champion

Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.

Defenseman Pavel Kubina and Dominic Moore also tallied for the

Maple Leafs, who made Ron Wilson's coaching debut with the team

a successful one.

"We paid attention to detail, we paid attention to the task at

hand," said Wilson, who improved to 5-8-1 in season openers.

"They're having a good time, and they should. They beat the

Stanley Cup champions."

A second-round pick in 2006, the 22-year-old Kulemin gave

Toronto a 3-1 lead at 7:25 of the third period, when he

intercepted a neutral-zone pass by Daniel Cleary and beat

goaltender Chris Osgood to the stick side on a breakaway. The

Russian spent last season in his homeland with Metallurg


"It was real exciting to score in my first NHL game," Kulemin

said through an interpreter. "And then to have it end up the

game-winner. I think somebody got the puck for me and they're

going to frame it."

"We coughed up a little bit too many pucks," Detroit's Tomas

Holmstrom said. "We had way too many turnovers, and they got

lots of offense from that."

Holmstrom netted both goals for the Red Wings, who fell to

43-30-9 in home openers.

"We didn't play as hard as we needed to play," Red Wings coach

Mike Babcock said. "We'll have to get it fixed or else you get

a pretty disappointing group. Obviously, we were set up to have

a real nice night here in Detroit. The evening started very

well. We didn't do our part to finish it well."

After Red Wings legends Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Steve

Yzerman - among others - participated in the raising of the

team's championship banner during a pregame ceremony, Detroit

applied pressure on Toskala, who was forced to make 14 saves in

the first period.

But the Maple Leafs were the ones who got on the board in the

opening session thanks to a miscue by Osgood.

Attempting to sweep the puck out of harm's way as it sat to his

right, Osgood gave it right to Kubina, who buried it from the

doorstep during a power play with 26 seconds to go for a 1-0


"We need to not turn the puck over as much as we did tonight,"

Osgood said. "That's probably the biggest thing we did."

Toronto, which improved to 34-41-16 in season openers, doubled

the advantage with less than five minutes remaining in the

second period. After rookie blue-liner Jonas Frogren's shot

from the right point was deflected by a defender, Moore

corralled the loose puck and fired it in from the right side of

the net at 15:04.

"There was a point shot that came through," Moore said.

"Steener (Alex Steen) had a couple whacks at it, I had a couple

whacks at it. Finally, it came loose and I was able to get it

up and over (Osgood). I was pretty excited. It was a big


The Red Wings answered 84 seconds later to halve the deficit.

Stationed in his usual spot, Holmstrom grabbed the puck after

defenseman Brad Stuart's blast from the blue line failed to make

it to the net and backhanded it under Toskala's pads from the

doorstep with 3:32 left in the middle session.

Holmstrom, who scored 11 of his 20 goals last season on the

power play, netted his first of this campaign with the man

advantage to draw Detroit within 3-2. Again standing in front,

the 35-year-old Swede picked up a loose puck and wrapped it

around Toskala's outstretched right leg at 9:20 of the third for

his second tally.

"They have one of the best players in the league in front of the

net in Holmstrom," Toskala said. "He makes it really tough for

the goalie to see the puck."

Toskala was impenetrable thereafter, turning aside the last six

shots he faced. His biggest stop came with three minutes to go,

denying Mikael Samuelsson from the left side with his left pad.

"We blew a lot of games last season and in the preseason in the

last 10 minutes, so I think this is a big confidence boost for

us," Toskala said.

Osgood made 26 saves and Marian Hossa notched an assist in his

debut with the Red Wings, who posted a 29-9-3 record at home

last season.

"I thought our goalie was good," Babcock said. "The game could

have been, I thought, more one-sided than it was."

"It was a hard-fought game. It's the way it's going to be all

year," Osgood said. "It shouldn't be a shock or a surprise to

anybody that Toronto played well tonight. Every time somebody

comes in here, they play good. We know that. It's not a

surprise for us."

Steen set up a goal for Toronto, which raised its record to

4-1-2 when beginning the season in Detroit.



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