Phaneuf's feisty debut highlights Leafs win as Giguere shuts down Devils

TORONTO -- Dion Phaneuf made quite a first impression with his new fans in Toronto.

Physical on the ice and chatty in the dressing room between periods, the rugged defenseman helped lead the Maple Leafs to a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Toronto snapped a six-game losing streak in Phaneuf's debut.

"It was a great honor to put this jersey on and to be a part of this organization," he said. "The fans were unbelievable. To be on this side and playing in front of them wearing this jersey, it meant a lot to me. It was a very special game in my career."

Jean-Sebastien Giguere also made the most of his Maple Leafs debut. He finished with 30 saves and became only the second Toronto goalie to record a shutout in his first outing. Ed Belfour beat Pittsburgh 6-0 on Oct. 10, 2002.

"It was a good result," Giguere said. "Since I've come here, over the last 48 hours, I really like what I've seen from the rest of the team. Everybody's really focused. Everybody's working really hard. Tonight, you could tell."

By the end of the first period, Phaneuf had landed a hit, took part in a fight, and received an ovation.

Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel and defenseman Francois Beauchemin provided all the offense Giguere needed. Another newcomer, Fredrik Sjostrom, earned an assist on Kulemin's first-period goal to mark his first game with Toronto.

"They're better defensively, you can tell," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "They've got great shooters on the point and you could see it tonight. They got some great shots."

New Jersey backup Yann Danis, making his first start since Nov. 21, stopped 23 shots.

Phaneuf and Sjostrom were acquired from Calgary, and Giguere came to the Leafs from Anaheim on Sunday in a pair of big trades.

More changes could be coming to the Maple Leafs before the March 3 trade deadline.

Toronto followed an overtime loss in New Jersey on Friday with another defeat at home to Vancouver on Saturday, when the Maple Leafs gave up a three-goal, first-period lead en route to a 5-3 loss.

Kulemin gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead against the Devils on Tuesday when he buried a rebound of Sjostrom's shot behind Danis.

It was a rare night off for No. 1 New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, who had played in 40 consecutive games and had become only the second NHL netminder to play in 15 or more games in consecutive months.

Phaneuf gave the crowd its second thrill of the game when he fought defenseman Colin White. The fans roared as Phaneuf skated to the box, chewing on his mouth guard.

"He's gung-ho, seems to love hockey, and it rubs off on everybody," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of Phaneuf. "We could hear him talking in between periods from the coach's office, which is almost two rooms away and three doorways. And you could hear him the whole time in between periods."

Kessel made it 2-0 two minutes into the second when he put a rebound past a helpless Danis. Toronto grabbed a three-goal lead when Beauchemin took a pass in his skates and ripped a shot through Danis from the blue line.

Game notes
Even though D Paul Martin (broken arm) withdrew from the U.S. Olympic team on Monday, the Devils are still set to send five players to the Vancouver Games: Brodeur (Canada), D Johnny Oduya (Sweden) and forwards Patrik Elias (Czech Republic), Zach Parise (USA) and Jamie Langenbrunner (USA). ... Leafs G Jonas Gustavsson and LW Alexei Ponikarovsky were awarded the Molson Cup for January in a pregame ceremony. ... Phaneuf finished the first period of his Toronto debut with 5:11 of ice time and a 5-minute penalty.