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Posted on: 10-09-2008

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>>caption:  THE BANNER AND


    The pre-game ceremonies
were emotional and inspiring.
    The Toronto Maple Leafs
sat and watched as Detroit
raised its 11th Stanley Cup Championship banner. The young Leafs then went
out and played "Beat The Champ" in a 3-2 Opening Night decision Thursday.
    In his debut game as Toronto head coach, Windsor native Ron Wilson had
his Leafs on the bench to view the lengthy presentations out of respect and
as a teaching tool. Wilson, whose late father Larry and whose uncle Johnny
both played and coached for the Red Wings, said he got "choked-up" when
Johnny Wilson joined Hall-of-Famers Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Alex
Delvecchio in helping bring the title banner onto the ice.
    Ron Wilson may have been choked-up, but his team with rostered players
from nine different countries did not choke in game one of the new season.
    Disciplined Toronto forechecked, stayed out of the penalty box (for the
most part) and took away the middle, disrupting the Detroit passing lanes.
Then, the Maple Leafs scored two unassisted goals of their own by streaking
up the slot.
    The Red Wings had a late try to tie with both the goalie pulled and a 6x4
skating advantage for the last half minute due to a delay-of-game power play.
However, they were unable to get the equalizer.
    Tomas Holmstrom scored both Detroit goals doing what he does best:
Disrupt on the doorstep.
    In a fast-paced, but choppy 1st-Per that featured close contact, the
Wings hit the left post and the crossbar before Toronto broke the scoreless
deadlock just before intermission. With the Wings attempting to kill a minor
penalty to Tomas Kopecky, the Detroit defense had the puck tied up in the
left corner. When the disc finally squirted free, goalie Chris Osgood tried to
stick-sweep it away to the right boards. However, Pavel Kubina jumped up
from the right point and took it right off Ozzie's stick to easily snap it into
the net for an unassisted power play goal (#1) at 19:34/1.
    Dominic Moore (#1) made it 2-0 Toronto when he converted off a goalmouth
scramble. Moore got a loose puck and lifted it over a sprawled Osgood at the
right corner of the net at 15:04/2.
    Just over a minute later Detroit got on the board. Brad Stuart fired from
the high slot and Holmstrom (#1) knocked down the shot, then scooped it
between the legs of new Maple Leafs starting goalie Vesa Toskala at 16:28/2.
    Nikolai Kulemin potted what proved to be the game-winner with his first
career NHL goal at 8:43/3. Kulemin intercepted a blueline pass from Detroit's
Dan Cleary and quickly skated forward to wrist the puck past Ozzie for a 3-1
Toronto edge.
    Holmstrom (#2) got Detroit close at 3-2 with a PPG at 9:20/3. With Detroit
buzzing, Holmer got a blocked shot and shook off a pair of Maple Leafs defenders
to sweep the puck past Toskala's right side.
    Although Detroit threatened again late, it was too late.
    Detroit out-shot Toronto 37-29.
    The Maple Leafs evened their all-time "Original 6" series vs the Red Wings
at 274-274-&-93.    


R-WINGS H-COACH MIKE BABCOCK:   "We were set up to have a real nice night
here. We didn't do our part...They were quicker than we were. They were
responsible for making us turn it over a lot of pucks....They were willing to
compete harder, win more races, win more battles than we were. We spent
too much time on defense. They were able to maintain possession in our zone
...We didn't play as hard as we need to play."

R-WINGS DEF/CAPT NICKLAS LIDSTROM:   "You're going to be tired by playing
defense all the time. You don't have the energy to play offense. If you cut down
on the turnovers in the neutral zone, you're going to spend more time in their

R-WINGS GOALIE CHRIS OSGOOD:   "Toronto's an improved team. They've got a
real fast team. They were in our end quick. We've got to shake that up and not
turn it over as much...We're going to have a lot of games like that this year
where teams get excited and fired up to play us. So we have to be ready. That's
the way it's going to be.''

R-WINGS Rt-WING MARIAN HOSSA:   "They played well...They deserve credit."

LEAFS H-COACH RON WILSON:   "This is one of the more satisfying wins I've ever
had. I've had some really great teams come into Detroit and you're hanging on for
dear life and if you can win a game in a shootout, you consider yourself lucky. For
us tonight, it was kind of a special night. I'm really proud of everybody on the team.
They were outstanding...I have no problem applauding the Red Wings (during pre-
game) for what they've done because we'd like to get there ourselves."

LEAFS DEF PAVEL KUBINA:   "It's great to see the Stanley Cup out there and the
crowd going crazy. I'm glad we did it and didn't sit in the locker room (during the
pre-game ceremonies)."

LEAFS CEN DOMINIC MOORE:   "''I was pretty excited, it was an important goal.
We're an excited team. We're a young team and you'll probably see a lot of those
types of (goal-scoring) celebrations this year.''

LEAFS CEN JOHN MITCHELL:   "There's a lot of talk about us and how our team might
not be very good this year. We came out and showed we're going to be hard-working
team. They're a really good team and we beat them."


    Holmstrom had only two two-goal games last season.
    Off-season free-agent signee Marian Hossa made his regular season Detroit
debut and assisted on Holmstrom's second goal.
    Osgood lost a season opener for the first time since 2003 when he backstopped
the St. Louis Blues vs the Phoenix Coyotes.
    Retired after winning the S-Cup last spring, former Red Wing players Dominik
Hasek and Dallas Drake participated in the banner-raising ceremonies.
    The crowd was announced as a 20,066 sellout, although there were lower bowl
empty seats.
    The Red Wings have won 11 S-Cups overall and four in 11 years. Toronto hasn't
made the playoffs since 2004 and are Cupless since 1967.
    Toronto won its first season opener since 2002.
    Number five overall NHL draft pick DEF Luke Schenn made his NHL debut on
the Leafs blueline.        
    Toronto's Ryan Hollweg served his first of a two-game suspension for a checking
from behind incident in pre-season.


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