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  • Friday, March 17, 2000

    Khristich back with a bang

    By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

      DETROIT -- Not even a slight twinge of soreness could wipe the smile off Dmitri Khristich's face.

     After missing 12 games with a groin injury, Khristich was champing at the bit to return to the Maple Leafs lineup. Not only was he back last night, but he scored a power-play goal in Toronto's 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

     "I'm pretty happy with the comeback," Khristich said. "I felt a little bit of pain in the game but I hope it will get better."

     "He's a skilled player and he showed it," Leafs general manager/coach Pat Quinn said. "He's on his way back."

     During his absence, Khristich would stroll around the Toronto dressing room without a noticeable ailment.

     "I was walking without a limp," Khristich said before the game. "The guys would look over at you and wouldn't see anything wrong with you. It was frustrating.

     "I'm ready to come back and play. It has been difficult. But my strength came back, and now I feel much better."

     While Khristich's return helped the team up front, the Leafs defence got thinner.

     Already missing Bryan Berard on the blue line, Quinn was unable to deal for defensive depth before the NHL trade deadline on Tuesday. But Quinn knows just how fragile the Leafs are at that position.

     They suffered another blow last night when defenceman Danny Markov was a scratch. Markov, who participated in the team's morning skate, was slammed into the boards during Toronto's 5-2 loss Wednesday to the Chicago Blackhawks at the Air Canada Centre.

     Markov was asked whether he was suffering from a mild concussion.

     "I'm not sure," he said. "(My head) is a little sore. Plus I have a bit of the flu.

     "I think I'll be ready for the next game."

     Misfortune appeared to hit the defence again when Alexander Karpovtsev had to be helped off the ice with eight seconds left in the second period after being nailed in the leg by a slapshot. He was able to return for the third.

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