Hockey

Tortorella gets rude welcome from Leafs

Vesa Toskala made 31 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts, and Nikolai Kulemin scored the winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat visiting New York 2-1 in John Tortorella's Rangers coaching debut on Wednesday night.

The Maple Leafs delivered the death blow to the Rangers' old head coach, then gave a rough reception to the new one.

Vesa Toskala made 31 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts, and Nikolai Kulemin scored the winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat visiting New York 2-1 in John Tortorella's Rangers coaching debut on Wednesday night.

Tortorella was hired earlier this week to replace Tom Renney, who got the axe after the Rangers' 3-2 overtime loss to Toronto on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

But the new bench boss couldn't prevent New York (31-23-8) from losing for the 11th time in 13 games. The Rangers have just eight of a possible 26 points over that span, and have fallen to sixth place in the Eastern Conference, just three points ahead of ninth-place Carolina.

"I'm a little concerned about the conditioning of the club," said the fiery Tortorella, who has promised an up-tempo, attacking style. "I thought we looked tired in the third period."

Maligned defenceman Wade Redden scored a second-period power-play goal for New York, which outshot the Leafs 32-24.

"I think this was definitely a step in the right direction," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "We looked faster and had more energy. [Tortorella] told us to go after them more, take more chances to get our offensive game going a little bit."

Niklas Hagman, who scored the OT winner on Sunday, sent the back end of the home-and-home into a tiebreaker with an even-strength goal midway through the third.

It was the fourth straight overtime contest for Toronto (23-26-12), which ranks 11th in the East but isn't a serious playoff contender. The Leafs trail Buffalo by 10 points for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Naslund drops the gloves

Toskala was once again the key for the Leafs. The goalie has had his struggles this season (.886 save percentage) but seems to have the Rangers' number. He made 39 saves against the Blueshirts on Sunday, and 32 in a 1-0 shootout loss at the Garden on Oct. 17.

"He's been playing outstanding," defenceman Ian White said. "His last couple games, he's pretty much single-handedly won us the games."

The Rangers came out looking eager to please their new boss, outshooting the Leafs 10-3 in the opening period.

Veteran forward Markus Naslund, who's been accused of indifferent play at times, may have been trying to score points with Tortorella by dropping the gloves with the smallish White. Naslund, though, looked every bit the guy with just one prior NHL fight under his belt, content to cling to White as not a single real punch was thrown during the tame tussle.

"It wasn't much of anything," White said.

New York's efforts finally bore fruit just past the midpoint of the second period. With Jonas Frogren off for tripping, Redden beat Toskala with a drive from the point. It was just the third goal of the season for the former Ottawa Senator, who has endured boos at Madison Square Garden in the first year of his six-year, $39 million contract.

Hagman pulled the Leafs even with 9:39 left in the third, walking out from behind the goal-line to the hash marks and whistling a high wrist shot past Lundqvist for his 19th.

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