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Canadian Press
11/6/2006 10:25:24 PM


TORONTO (CP) - Nik Antropov played his way onto the Toronto Maple Leafs top line Monday and made coach Paul Maurice look good by scoring the winner in a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The big Kazahk winger, often the target of the fans' ire in these parts, was a presence all night and found himself playing alongside captain Mats Sundin in the third period. He responded by scoring the winner at 7:18 on a power play during a scramble when he swooped in and banged the puck by Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki.

Alexei Ponikarovsky and Tomas Kaberle, into an empty net, then added insurance goals to give the Leafs their fifth victory in six games.

Bates Battaglia also scored while Andrew Raycroft made 40 saves in goal for Toronto (9-5-3).

Ben Eager replied for the struggling Flyers (3-10-1), who are dead last in the NHL with just seven points. Niittymaki made 29 saves.

The game was a perfect example of the differing fortunes the teams have experienced so far this season.

The two points were there for the taking all night and it was the Leafs who found a way to grab them despite not playing their best game. The Flyers, who dropped to 2-4-0 under coach John Stevens, couldn't get the goal that would make the difference.

Their league-low power play got even worse by going 0-for-7 on the night. Stevens might want to address that when the Flyers practice on Tuesday.

Toronto was coming off a big victory in Buffalo on Saturday night, when they beat the red-hot Sabres 4-1. They came out skating and made this one look like it might be a rout.

Battaglia did that only 5:25 into the game when he came out from behind the net, spun away from defender Derian Hatcher and beat goalie Niittymaki with a wrist shot. That dropped Hatcher to a league-worst minus-16.

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Until their first last 2 goals in the 3rd to make it 3-1, Toronto barely escaped with that one.

Raycroft was huge. He's played very well this year.

Another stellar performance. 40 saves? Not bad at all. Paul Maruice said it was his best game of the year, and I can't disagree.
 

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Raycroft is at his best

Steals win from lowly Flyers

By TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

Andrew Raycroft, by his own acknowledgement, almost is back to where he started.

Because the Maple Leafs goaltender is nestled in a similar kind of groove that led him to win the Calder Trophy in 2003-04, he was able to steal a victory last night.

Raycroft made 40 saves against the worst club in the National Hockey League as the Leafs beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 before 19,501 at the Air Canada Centre. The score wasn't indicative of the Leafs' performance -- Raycroft saved his teammates' bacon in the second period with 16 saves and then stopped all 17 shots he saw in the third, making a few large saves with Toronto up 2-1.

Raycroft and coach Paul Maurice agreed it was the 26-year-old netminder's best game in a Toronto uniform.

"I feel more and more comfortable out there, for sure," said Raycroft, who earlier yesterday was named the second star by the NHL for the previous week. "I enjoy playing as much as I can. The more I play, the better I feel, and I am less nervous. You don't really think about it. That's when I am at my best."
CANOE -- SLAM! Sports - Hockey NHL - Toronto - Raycroft is at his best

No doubt has he been solid this season. The Leafs almost let this one get away, but Raycroft saved the day.

Good for him, and I hope he keeps it up.
 
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