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MILLER STRONG OUT OF THE BLOCKS

By the end of the Los Angeles Kings' 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, Aaron Miller could barely stand up. What was important, though, was how well he stood up during the 60 minutes that allowed the post-Rob Blake era to dawn happily for the emotionally spent Kings.

Miller, the West Seneca native acquired from the Colorado Avalanche with Adam Deadmarsh, two picks and a prospect for Blake and Steven Reinprecht late Wednesday, blocked a game-high six shots and added a steadying influence to a team that needed some calm. Thanks to Miller and a newly configured defense, goaltender Felix Potvin barely broke a sweat in stopping 19 shots and earning his first victory as a King, first since Jan. 27 at Calgary and his first shutout since last Oct. 14 with the Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo.

"I was tired in the third," said Miller. "I played last night and was told about the trade and didn't get any sleep. I was going on adrenaline, but my legs are gone now.

Deadmarsh did not play Thursday. He remained in Denver with his infant daughters, who have been in intensive care since their birth two weeks ago. He's expected to play Saturday.

"I just want to come in and play good defense," Miller said. "They've got enough offense that they don't need me to get involved."

Leafs finally relax

TORONTO -- With Rob Blake in Colorado, and Eric Lindros still with Philadelphia, the Toronto Maple Leafs felt relieved.

Steve Thomas, Garry Valk, Mats Sundin and Igor Korolev scored as the Maple Leafs beat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1.

"I saw a little extra bounce in the guys' steps, not because we didn't get Eric, but because maybe a little bit of the pressure has been let off of the guys who were involved in the talks," Thomas said.

The Maple Leafs ended a six-game winless streak one day after the Lindros trade with the Philadelphia Flyers fell through and Los Angeles' Blake was dealt to Colorado.

Toronto was distracted for two months, falling from first to seventh in the Eastern Conference.

"It was nice to put all the trade rumors behind us," Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. "We definitely got into a waiting mode where everybody expected something to happen, and we stopped playing."

With the no new rumors circulating, the Leafs jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period.

Around the rinks

Alexei Yashin, Marian Hossa and Magnus Arvedson scored 8:26 apart in the third period as the Senators defeated the Panthers, 4-2. . . . Roman Hamrlik scored with 17.9 seconds left in overtime as the Islanders completed a three-goal rally to end the Flyers' five game winning streak, 4-3.

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