The Toronto Maple Leafs Swedish captain Mats Sundin scored his 500th career NHL goal on Saturday night, becoming the 35th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.
The goal was the short-handed game-winner over Calgary, moving Sundin ahead of the Jackets’ Sergei Fedorov for first on the NHL’s all-time list of OT goals with his 15th.
“He has always been a good player,” Jackets head coach Gerard Gallant said about Sundin. “He is having more success right now because they are playing an up tempo game and he is feeling really, he has always been a good player in my book.”
Sundin and the Maple Leafs will make their second appearance at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. on Friday night.
Sundin has had a lot of success on the ice, including winning the Gold Medal with Sweden at the Winter Olympics, along with fellow countryman and current Jackets forward, Fredrik Modin.
“We have gotten to know each other a little bit,” Modin said. “Obviously, I have nothing but good things to say about him, he is a tremendous hockey player and has a tremendous work ethic. That is something that kind of rubs off on his teammates. He is a fun guy to be around.”
Sundin leads the Maples Leafs (3-2-2) in points, scoring 4-4-8 in seven games on the young season, including a hat trick vs. Calgary on Wednesday, the game-winning, shorthanded goal in over time being his 500th.
“Obviously it is quite an accomplishment,” Modin said about his former teammate. “You just don’t get 500 goals for nothing. I am sure he is in good company in that group and I don’t think anyone is surprised he got there. He is a good athlete and he will be playing for a few more years and I am sure he will add to that number.”
Toronto’s Kyle Wellwood is tied for the team lead with Sundin, having also scored eight points on one goal and seven assists, while LW Darcy Tucker leads the team with five goals. Off-season acquisition Andrew Raycroft has jumped out of the gates posting a 3-2-1 record with a 2.27 GAA and .923 SV%, and one shutout.
The Jackets, meanwhile, are 2-1-1, having played just one game in the last 10 days since starting 2-0-1 on the season, coming off of a 5-0 loss at Minnesota last Saturday night. David Vyborny and Rick Nash lead the offense with six points each, though Nash has scored three goals to Vyborny’s one, with eight different Jackets scoring goals.
Pascal Leclaire is the unquestioned No. 1 netminder in Columbus, posting a 2-1-1- mark with a 3.36 GAA and a .889 SV%. Leclaire took over the reigns from Marc Denis, who was dealt in the off-season for Modin.
Modin, who has yet to tally a goal in a CBJ uniform but has posted an assist in four games, won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay, something Sundin has yet to do.
“I know that for a fact, that Mats’ biggest wish is to win the Cup and he has got that determination in his personality to really do whatever he can to make him and his team better.”
As always, Huntington Green Seats will be available for tonight's game and every game during the 2006-07 season. The Huntington Green Seats are 250 seats that are priced at $10 for every home game this season and are available only at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, two hours prior to game time. For tonight's game each person may purchase a maximum of four seats.
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