Nine times out of ten when a matchup like this one is built up by media and fans in anticipation of some old-time hockey it ends up being a low scoring and tightly contested affair.
Such was the case Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre as the New York Islanders returned to the site of their playoff demise last year. There was barely a tussle on the night as the Leafs skated to the 5-2 win on the strength of two goals by Mats Sundin.
The Leafs eliminated the Isles in the first round of 2002's Stanley Cup Playoffs after a rough and tumble seven-game series that saw the controvertial hit that ended Michael Peca's playoff run and the Islander's along with it.
Toronto may have had some extra motivation as well after losing to the Isles on Long Island in another hyped up matchup on December 6 in Long Island.
| Sundin notched points 997 and 998 Tuesday. |
Graig Abel Photography
In this game though, cooler heads would prevail and it was clear that both teams were more interested in getting the win than settling any scores, perceived or otherwise.
Even Tie Domi stepped out of his tough-guy shell and notched his career-high 14th goal on the season.
"Mats said to me he wants to do the 20-40 club between us," Domi laughed. "It's more realistic for him to get the 40. I don't know about the 20 for me."
Sundin put in a solid night with his pair of goals, but lost the puck deking on a penalty shot as Garth Snow attempted a poke check.
"I wish I got that penalty shot back,"said Sundin. "I just rushed a little too much and I lost the puck. It is embarrassing, especially on home ice."
But just when you think the hype is over, the Leafs head to Detroit to face the Red Wings and, in all likelihood, Curtis Joseph. Pat Quinn says he won't do anything differently to prepare for Thursday night and his former netminder.
"They're a heck of a hockey team," said Quinn. "We'll just make sure we understand what's trying to be done out there and still play a game that's not focusing on Curtis, focusing on ourselves and how we need to play."
Adding to the excitement leading up to Thursday is that there is a good chance Sundin will record his 1000 career point and how special would it be coming on a puck slipping by his former backstop.
With his two goals Tuesday, Sundin sits at 998 career points.
So count on plenty more hype leading up to Thursday night's puck drop, there's a lot more riding on this one than just two points.