Manny Fernandez was a surprise starter in the Boston net, but it won't be a surprise if the inconsistent backstop gets at least a couple of more starts here in the final two weeks of the regular season.
''We want both of our goalies to be in a position of strength,'' explained coach Claude Julien, noting that he'd like to use Fernandez again over the club's final eight regular-season games. ''That will allow Manny to find his game, and it will allow Timmy [Thomas] to get his rest.''
IN the midst of a Steve Montador-Luke Schenn fight in the third period, TV cameras caught Leafs GM Brian Burke with a pair of binoculars trained on the combatants. The ex-Ducks GM appeared to have a slight smile on his face as he lowered the glasses.
''You know Burkie,'' said Montador, ''he likes his fights.''
''It was a battle from the drop of the puck,"' said Fernandez, who pinned up his first victory since Jan. 8. ''Those first few minutes...I don't know what it is...it goes well in practice, but for some reason I get in a game, and I have to expect the unexpected. It's not maybe [something will happen], it's going (ital) to happen. It was a tough night--and some nights you have to battle.''
The three stars: 1. Mark Recchi; 2. Alexei Ponikarovsky; 3. Michael Ryder.