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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Louis Home Debut Makes Gretzky 'Tingle'

ST. LOUIS -- A little banged-up but accompanied by rousing applause at every move, Wayne Gretzky has made his home debut with the St. Louis Blues.


Tuesday, he smiled during his morning skate and then passed a medical test clearing him to play against the Florida Panthers, a game the Blues won 2-0.


Gretzky sustained a mild concussion when he was elbowed in the face by Edmonton's Kelly Buchberger on Sunday, and there was some concern he might be in street clothes Tuesday night.


Gretzky was far from sharp. He had no shots on goal and hit the goal post in an attempt at an empty-netter with three seconds to go. Still, this was his night.


"The crowd was into it, it was exciting, everyone was buzzing," said teammate Brian Noonan, who scored and assisted to break a scoreless third period.


A record St. Louis crowd of 20,725 greeted Gretzky, acquired last Tuesday from the Los Angeles Kings, with a standing ovation when he stepped on the ice and with more thunderous cheers when he was the final starter introduced.


"I was tingling,'' Gretzky said. "I think I'm happier to be here than they are happy to have me here."


Gretzky had a fairly quiet evening. And he more than anyone else was baffled by the blown empty-netter.


"I don't usually miss those," he said. "That's rare. I've got to tell you, I'm pretty good at those. I'm the best empty-net goal scorer in history."


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Pat Burns, 43, a two-time National Hockey League coach of the year who twice led Toronto to the conference finals, was fired by the struggling Maple Leafs and replaced Tuesday by player development director Nick Beverley.


Toronto general manager Cliff Fletcher fired Burns on Monday following the Leafs' eighth consecutive loss, a 4-0 defeat to Colorado.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)