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Dominic Moore makes an impression as Maple Leafs beat Buffalo 7-4

The Canadian Press
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Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Justin Pogge, left, celebrates with teammate Mike Van Ryn, right, as the Leafs defeated the Buffalo Sabres 6-4 during third period pre-season NHL action on Monday, Sept. 22, 2008 in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette Author: The Hockey News

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Dominic Moore makes an impression as Maple Leafs beat Buffalo 7-4

The Canadian Press
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TORONTO - There might not be a player on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster who better embodies the type of player new coach Ron Wilson is looking for than Dominic Moore.

Moore used his speed, threw some hits, blocked a shot and scored two goals Monday as the Maple Leafs opened their pre-season schedule with a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

The 28-year-old has bounced between teams in recent years but might find a more permanent home in Toronto if he keeps playing like that.

"The one guy I guess who did make an obvious impression to everybody tonight is Dom Moore," Wilson said after coaching his first game since being hired by Toronto in June. "I'd never really seen him play all that much. ...

"I was impressed with his speed and his competitiveness. He scored two nice goals, took the puck to the net and did a great job killing penalties."

Wilson's team is going to be short on star power this year so the coach has vowed to put a hard-working squad on the ice.

He might have a good fit in Moore.

The Leafs coach won't be counting on much offence from him - Moore has scored 22 goals during 224 career NHL games - but he can rely on getting the maximum effort possible.

"I take pride in my versatility," said Moore. "That's a big part of my game. I'm happy to help out whatever way I can."

Carlo Colaiacovo, Boyd Devereaux, Robbie Earl, Matt Stajan and Jiri Tlusty also scored for the Maple Leafs on Monday. Marek Zagrapan, Philip Gogulla, Mark Mancari and Jochen Hecht replied for Buffalo.

Tickets to the exhibition opener were given away for free and the 18,819 in attendance at Air Canada Centre saw a pretty good game that featured some physical play and plenty of scoring.

It resulted in a pretty lively crowd for September.

"There was a lot of energy in the building," said Leafs goaltender Curtis Joseph.

His presence made it feel like the old days. The fans chanted "Cujo! Cujo!" before the start of the 41-year-old's first start with the Maple Leafs since leaving for Detroit as a free agent in 2002.

Joseph returned over the summer and will likely be Vesa Toskala's backup once the season starts.

Another player the home fans were anxious to see was defenceman Luke Schenn, the 18-year-old the Maple Leafs drafted fifth overall in June. He played nearly 20 minutes and was a plus-2.

"I had a lot of fun out there," said Schenn. "It's awesome playing in front of 20,000 fans."

Zagrapan opened the scoring for Buffalo on a power play just 45 seconds in before the Maple Leafs found their stride and dominated much of the period.

Moore tied it at 8:09 after a strong forecheck caused a Sabres turnover and the Leafs centre beat Sabres goalie Ryan Miller over the shoulder. Toronto again established its presence in Buffalo's end just before Colaiacovo's shot through a crowd made it 2-1 at 18:51.

"For periods of time, our forecheck was unbelievable," said Wilson. "(Later in the game), our guys didn't have their legs because of all the work we've done the first two and a half days. And that's understandable."

Fortunately, they had Justin Pogge, who played the final two periods in place of Joseph. He was particularly good in the second, making 15 saves as Toronto built a 4-1 lead on goals by Devereaux and Earl.

This is an important season for Pogge, who is expected to start with the AHL Marlies and will be looking to show he deserves a spot on the big team down the road.

"I'm just ready to do whatever it takes," he said.

That kind of attitude will serve him well.

The Sabres came out strong in the third period and looked like they might have a comeback in them until Moore's short-handed goal ended those chances. He took the puck hard to the net and somehow managed to sneak it past Jhonas Enroth - who replaced Miller midway through the game - while being taken down at 14:47.

That made it 6-3.

Moore grew up in the Toronto area and joined the team midway through last season after being picked up on waivers from Minnesota. The Maple Leafs are the fourth NHL team he's skated for since the lockout and he's feeling good in Toronto.

"It's been great," he said. "Obviously growing up here, I really enjoy being home. I appreciate the opportunity to wear that jersey. It's been a lot of fun."

Notes: The Maple Leafs blocked 23 shots in the game. "It's a sign that they're listening and paying attention," said Wilson ...Toronto was 3-3-2 against the Sabres during the regular season a year ago ... Chad Kilger and John Pohl led Toronto in pre-season scoring last fall. Neither player is still with the team ... The Maple Leafs next exhibition game is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh ... Buffalo plays Montreal on Tuesday in Roberval, Que. - the small town's prize for winning Hockeyville 2008 ... Enroth was a standout for Sweden at this year's world junior championship. His only loss came against Canada in the gold-medal final.

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Dominic Moore makes an impression as Maple Leafs beat Buffalo 7-4