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Khristich steps up
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
With injuries to centres Yanic Perreault, Nik Antropov and Alyn McCauley, Maple Leafs general manager/coach Pat Quinn is looking to Khristich to plug the gap in the middle. Khristich, a left winger, hadn't played centre since lining up between Vladimir Tsyplakov and Vitali Yachmenev with the Los Angeles Kings three seasons ago.
But Khristich didn't appear to miss a beat when he centred Tie Domi and Mike Johnson during Toronto's 3-2 victory Monday over Buffalo.
"He was one of our more solid performers," Quinn said yesterday.
"I hadn't seen him play centre in four or five years and he played quite well."
It may be a while before Khristich returns to the wing.
Perreault is expected to be out six to eight weeks with a broken radius bone in his left forearm after being slashed Saturday by Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tom Barrasso. Barrasso was handed a four- game suspension by the NHL.
After resting a shoulder sprain for more than a week, Antropov was hoping to return tomorrow against the Philadelphia Flyers. But Quinn said that was unlikely.
McCauley, meanwhile, continues to suffer from dehydration and a high temperature. He did not practise yesterday.
While calling up centre Kevyn Adams from the St. John's farm team is an option, the Leafs could decide to leave Khristich in the middle.
"I think the first time I ever played there was 10 years ago with Kiev," Khristich said.
"It's fine, though. I told the team right away I would play any role. There is more responsibility at centre. You have the puck more. My faceoffs need some work, though."
As for Yushkevich, he turned in a shaky opening shift against Buffalo. Not only did he cough up the puck a couple of times, but he allowed Miroslav Satan to score. That is uncharacteristic for one of the club's steadiest defencemen.
"Personally I think he is playing better overall than last year," Quinn said.
Quinn announced defenceman Alexander Karpovtsev could return against
the Flyers. Karpovtsev has missed the past five games with a shoulder sprain.