by Matthew Iaboni
October 14, 2006(TORONTO) --
After the Calgary Flams came back to tie the game 4-4 and send yet another Air Canada Centre thriller into overtime, Mats Sundin ended the game dramtically - and with a little history.
Just 50 seconds into the extra frame, Sundin wired a shorthanded goal over the glove of Miikka Kiprusoff for his 8th career hat trick and 500th NHL goal.
|Mat gets mobbed by his teammates. |
(Grai Abel Photography)
Sundin became the first to score 500 goals in a Leafs uniform.
"Mats Sundin, 500 goals, I don't have a lot to comment on it because I wasn't here for 496 of them," said head coach Paul Maurice. "It was such an impressive display. He's been a horse, a great leader, he's stayed with it and he's a pleasure to watch. I've been really fortunate, I've been able to see a lot of incredible things in my short time here, you get to enjoy it."
His teammates were just as happy for their captain.
"It was unbelievable," Alex Steen said. "During the second intermission we heard one more was 500 for him and he had a great slap shot to win it. We are all really happy for him."
Those comments were echoed by one of the longest serving Leafs, Sundin's linemate, Darcy Tucker.
"I remember being on the ice for his 400th and to see him score it in overtime where he's done it so many times before and all the guys waited around on the ice for him, it was special."
Here is what the Leafs captain had to say after the game to reporters.
"Sometimes the puck goes in. I've had four, five, six shots in other games early on and nothing goes in and tonight they all go in. I'm very proud (of the 500 goals), it's an achievement not many players have reached in this league. I really appreciate it and once I'm retired I'll really appreciate it more. It's a special way to get it and I'll remember this game my whole life.
"More than anything, it's nice to get it over with. I didn't want to have that hanging over my shoulder 10-20 games into the season. So obviously I'm really proud of that accomplishment. I think once my career is done, I'll appreciate it even more. But certainly to win the way we did tonight even though we were shorthanded and found a way to win it makes it special to get 500 that way.
"I looked to my right and I saw both Hal Gill and Bryan McCabe went to the net. We were on an outnumbered rush with three guys out there and I didn't want to take a chance and pass and have them go the other way for a breakaway. So as soon as I got over the blue line I just tried to find a high spot and I shot it and I think I fooled Kiprusoff with it.
"It's certainly a fun way to get the 500th goal. It's a special way but someone asked me what are the nicest goals to score. Obviously the playoffs when you're in a conference final or when the season's on the line, those are always more special goals I think when you're playing in the spring. But you know, in October this is a great time, too.
When he came onto the ice as the first star, Sundin applauded the fans.
"You play here - and I've played here for many years now - we do realize that we have the best fans. The team hasn't won a championship since '67, they come to the games and support our team and they don't want anything from us but to do well. Definitely, there are not enough words to say what they mean. They're the reason why we're playing."
As for scoring in overtime Sundin said, "I don't know. It's fun. I mean, I enjoy playing the tight games. I don't know if it's all fluke, I don't think so. I enjoy overtime. I like the feeling that everything's on the line, the games are close games so I think my game is better when that happens."
He was looking forward to speaking to his family. "Yeah, they're probably sleeping right now. I'll talk to them tomorrow. My brother's here right now so we'll do something to celebrate tonight."
Leafs Nation celebrated right along with him on Saturday night.