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Leafs win in Carlyle's coach debut

MONTREAL — Mikhail Grabovski scored twice in the third period as the Maple Leafs gave new coach Randy Carlyle a victory in his debut with a 3-1 win over the Canadiens on Saturday night.

The win, the second in the past 12 games for the slumping Leafs, ended a six-game winless run.

The Leafs fired fourth-year coach Ron Wilson on Friday night and hired Carlyle in a bid to energize a team that dropped out of a playoff spot with a 1-9-1 run starting Feb. 7.

Carlyle's first game behind the bench came in a nationally televised encounter in Canada between the NHL's oldest rivals, with a large contingent of Toronto fans in the Bell Centre putting up competing chants with Canadiens supporters.

At a news conference earlier in the day, Toronto general manager Brian Burke said he decided it was time to fire Wilson — whom he has known since they were college freshmen at Providence in 1973 — after Tuesday's home loss to Florida during which fans chanted "Fi-re Wil-son!"

"After the last home game it occurred to me it would be cruel and unusual to let Ron coach another game in the Air Canada Centre," Burke said.

Burke said he understood the fans' anger, and it had become apparent from the team's February a change was required.

"I've never had a team fall off a cliff like this before in my life," he said. "I've seen dips, slumps, rough patches, but this is akin to an 18-wheeler going off a cliff.

"I don't know what happened. I'm bewildered by it. It's like someone hit me with a two-by-four."

Carlyle said he sensed the Maple Leafs were "very tense."

"My responsibility as head coach is to … get them feeling better about themselves," said Carlyle, not known for being a touch-feely coach.

Carlyle was given a contract for next season.

"If we're going to miss (the playoffs)," Burke said, "we're going to miss with a coach that gives us a better chance next fall."

fan injuries: A fan at the Maple Leafs-Canadiens game fell from the middle tier of seats about 12 feet into the lower bowl of the Bell Centre and on another fan before the game. Both were taken to a hospital. Neither's injury appeared life-threatening, a spokesman said.

game highlights: The Panthers lost for the fifth time in six home games, 3-1 to the Predators. … In the host Bruins' 3-2 loss to the Islanders, backup goalie Tuukka Rask left the game with an injury midway through the second period after he kicked out his left pad to try to stop a shot that went wide. He was helped off the ice favoring his left leg. Coach Claude Julien said Rask wouldn't make the trip for today's game with the Rangers but didn't elaborate on the injury.

Maple Leafs 0 1 2 3
at Canadiens 1 0 0 1

First Period1, Montreal, Cole 23 (Desharnais, Pacioretty), 7:16. PenaltiesBrown, Tor, major (fighting), 10:23; Staubitz, Mon, major (fighting), 10:23.

Second Period2, Toronto, Frattin 6 (Grabovski), 6:30. PenaltiesSchenn, Tor (tripping), 15:43; Leblanc, Mon (holding), 19:40.

Third Period3, Toronto, Grabovski 19 (MacArthur, Gunnarsson), 11:45. 4, Toronto, Grabovski 20 (Frattin, Phaneuf), 19:07 (pp). PenaltiesPacioretty, Mon (goaltender interference), 7:20; Cole, Mon (interference), 19:01; Connolly, Tor (slashing, roughing), 20:00; Subban, Mon (roughing), 20:00. Shots on GoalToronto 13-12-17—42. Montreal 7-10-5—22. Power-play opportunitiesToronto 1 of 3; Montreal 0 of 1. GoaliesToronto, Gustavsson 17-13-2 (22 shots-21 saves). Montreal, Price 23-25-9 (42-39).

Predators 1 1 1 3
at Panthers 0 1 0 1
Predators 1 1 1 3
at Panthers 0 1 0 1

First Period1, Nashville, A.Kostitsyn 13 (Gaustad, Gill), 11:35. PenaltiesFisher, Nas (holding), 7:20.

Second Period2, Nashville, Fisher 19 (Erat), :28. 3, Fla., Wolski 2 (Goc, Fleischmann), 7:49. PenaltiesS.Kostitsyn, Nas (slashing), 12:24; Tootoo, Nas (tripping), 16:45.

Third Period4, Nashville, Legwand 15 (A.Kostitsyn, Suter), 7:02. PenaltiesGarrison, Fla (hooking), 19:43. Shots on GoalNashville 6-8-9—23. Fla. 15-9-16—40. Power-play opportunitiesNashville 0 of 1; Fla. 0 of 3. GoaliesNashville, Rinne 36-13-7 (40 shots-39 saves). Fla., Clemmensen 11-6-5 (23-20).

Islanders 1 1 1 3
at Bruins 1 0 1 2
Islanders 1 1 1 3
at Bruins 1 0 1 2

First Period1, Boston, Lucic 22 (Rolston, Corvo), 15:10 (pp). 2, NYI, Bailey 10 (Nielsen, Ullstrom), 17:36. PenaltiesCaron, Bos (slashing), 4:39; Parenteau, NYI (slashing), 5:10; Thornton, Bos (roughing), 12:20; Bailey, NYI (slashing), 13:43.

Second Period3, NYI, Moulson 28 (Nielsen, Tavares), 15:35 (pp). PenaltiesOkposo, NYI (holding), 10:33; McQuaid, Bos (tripping), 15:07.

Third Period4, Boston, Seguin 22 (Chara, Krejci), 7:29. 5, NYI, Tavares 26 (Moulson, MacDonald), 15:21. PenaltiesJurcina, NYI (slashing), 1:43; Staios, NYI (tripping), 9:01. Shots on GoalNYI 10-7-8—25. Boston 12-15-7—34. Power-play opportunitiesNYI 1 of 3; Boston 1 of 5. GoaliesNYI, Nabokov 16-16-1 (34 shots-32 saves). Boston, Rask (12-11), Thomas 27-14-0 (9:01 second, 13-11).

Leafs win in Carlyle's coach debut 03/03/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 3, 2012 10:53pm]

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