|Toronto captain Mats Sundin scored a goal in his first game since stating he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause as the Maple Leafs went on to blitz the Ottawa Senators 5-0.
The Toronto Maple Leafs captain is sticking with the only franchise he’s known for more than a decade, through good and bad – and in Sundin’s first game since it was made known he won’t waive his no-trade clause, the Maple Leafs sure looked good.
Sundin opened the scoring in the first period with a power-play goal and Darcy Tucker scored twice and picked up an assist during a four-goal binge in the second as the Leafs routed the Ottawa Senators 5-0 Monday at Scotiabank Place.
Vesa Toskala stopped 31 shots for his third shutout of the season and the 11th of his career.
The Leafs drew to within six points of the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot after Philadelphia’s 4-3 shootout win in Buffalo. With Sundin staying put and a big victory over a Northeast Division foe, the players in Toronto’s dressing room still believe.
“You know what, we really believe that we have a pretty good hockey club,” Tucker said. “A lot of other people have been putting us down, and we went in a stretch where we didn’t play well, but we got a chance to redeem ourselves and we’re trying to do that.”
Tucker helped break the game open by beating Senators goalie Ray Emery twice in a span of less than six minutes in the second. In between his goals, which gave him 14 for the season, he set up a score by defenseman Pavel Kubina. Dominic Moore tallied later to cap the outburst.
Emery was pulled after yielding five goals on 21 shots through the first two periods and replaced by Martin Gerber. The Senators have lost eight of their last 12 and fallen out of the lead in the Eastern Conference.
Ottawa coach John Paddock called Monday’s loss “a total embarrassment.”
“The whole scenario didn't make any sense,” he added.
Leafs defenseman Bryan McCabe viewed the result from a much different perspective, echoing Tucker’s sentiments that the team deserves a little more respect than it’s been getting.
“I don’t care how they played,” McCabe said. “We’ve got a little something going here and it’s nice to see. How about a little credit for the way we played? We seem to always be top-five in man games lost so that doesn't help us at all. It’s nice to have a healthy team now going forward and this is the real Maple Leafs team.”
Sundin still wanted to be part of that group, but the Senators were probably wishing he had left town after he redirected a Tomas Kaberle shot past Emery at 8:19 of the first. The power-play goal was Sundin’s team-leading 26th of the season, and it would hold up as the game-winner thanks to Toskala’s stingy play.
Toronto also killed off all four Ottawa power-play attempts, including one late in the first period and another in the second right before Kubina scored his sixth of the year.
“I thought we built off our penalty kill more than anything,” Tucker said. “I think that we did some good stuff there and got some opportunities. Our power play clicked, and it’s a specialty teams league for the most part. You’ve got to play well on your specialty teams.”
Flyers 4, Sabres 3 (SO) | Video
Before they got the news about acquiring Vaclav Prospal, the Philadelphia Flyers already had reason to smile: They rallied from a three-goal deficit for the first time in more than five years and got a 10-game losing streak off their backs.
Daniel Briere, who left the Buffalo Sabres after last season to sign an eight-year deal with the Flyers, came back to HSBC Arena and haunted his old team with the deciding goal in the shootout. Jeff Carter scored in regulation and again in the tiebreaker as Philadelphia moved into a tie with Buffalo for eighth in the East.
Life has been tough lately for the Flyers and Briere in particular – despite placing second on the team with 55 points, he entered Monday a minus-24 and wasn’t living up to expectations in the eyes of many fans.
“That’s all I was thinking about – finally the chance to redeem myself a little bit for what has happened lately,” Briere said. “Right now it’s an unbelievable feeling to come back here in Buffalo. We battled hard, and for once we got some breaks. Hopefully it can get us on a roll.”
Picking up Prospal, who had 29 goals and 57 points for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, should help. Prospal, who began his career with the Flyers during the 1996-97 campaign, comes over in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a conditional draft pick.
Meanwhile, Sabres defenseman Bryan Campbell was waiting to find out if he would be moved prior to Tuesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. Campbell told reporters Monday he did not plan to counter Buffalo’s latest contract offer.
“Do I feel I might get traded? Yeah,” said Campbell, who’s in the final year of his current deal.
“Do I know 100 percent? No.”
Carter and Scott Hartnell scored goals 1:48 apart late in the first period to start the Flyers back from a 3-0 deficit. R.J. Umberger forced overtime when he notched his 12th of the season on a power play with 7:15 left in regulation.
Ales Kotalik of the Sabres struck first in the shootout, beating Martin Biron in the second round. But Carter came right back to tie it, and after Derek Roy lost the puck and fanned on his attempt, Briere skated in and put a backhander past Ryan Miller as the Flyers came pouring off the bench to celebrate.
“I tried that same move – we had a shootout earlier this season in Philly and he stopped me,” Briere said. “Obviously Ryan knows me really well. I was coming down and I was going backhand the whole way.”
Biron survived a difficult first period to stop 26 shots for the Flyers. Roy put a backhander past him at the 6:31 mark, and just 11 seconds later Clarke MacArthur broke in following a turnover and made it 2-0. Jason Pominville extended the Sabres’ lead at 14:16 by taking a cross-crease feed from Tim Connolly and putting a shot inside the left post.
But Carter would get the Flyers on the board only 17 seconds after Pominville’s goal, beating Miller on a breakaway and starting the comeback.
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.