February 26, 2007
MONTREAL (CP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs feel they were denied the last push of momentum needed to complete their comeback from three goals down Monday in a 5-4 road loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Leafs were consistently buzzing around the Canadiens' zone late in the game when, with the puck coming around the boards toward them, Toronto captain Mats Sundin took a stick from Montreal winger Garth Murray in the face with just over 90 seconds to play in regulation.
Sundin went down, the whistle blew, but neither Stephane Auger nor Bill McCreary saw the infraction.
"Well, it's just Mats Sundin,'' Leafs coach Paul Maurice said sarcastically. "He needs to lose at least part of his body to get a call there, I would think.''
Maurice said one of the linesman saw the penalty, but since Sundin wasn't bleeding or injured he wasn't allowed to make a call.
Though the Leafs managed to regain their focus after the missed call, and make a push to tie the game with the goalie pulled, as soon as the final horn sounded, Sundin gave both Auger and McCreary an earful before leaving the ice.
Sundin did not speak to reporters following the game, but Leafs winger Jeff O'Neill feels it is the referees who should have to face more public scrutiny.
"I'm tired of answering calls about the refereeing, I don't know why the referees don't get questions on these types of things because what can we say about it?'' O'Neill asked. "It's not like (Sundin) is not noticeable out there, he's the best player on the ice, he's six-foot-five and he gets high-sticked in front of four referees. "It's just kind of weird that there's not a call. But like I said, I don't know why these guys don't get questioned on what's going on out there because they're the ones who can answer those questions.''
Notes: The Leafs have collected only three regulation wins over their last nine games, though they do have nine points over that stretch with one loss in overtime and another two in shootouts. I doesn't get any easier for them as they host the first-place Buffalo Sabres at home Tuesday before travelling to New Jersey on Friday and hosting Buffalo again on Saturday. ... Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. was supposed to make the trip to Montreal, but he had flight problems and couldn't attend. ... Jeremy Williams' third period goal that began the comeback was the second of his career in only his second NHL game. He said it's no coincidence it came while playing with Sundin. "When (Maurice) told me I was playing with Mats there were a little bit of nerves there, but it just shows how amazing a player he is,'' Williams said. "You play with him and pucks just come to him.'' Williams had three shots in the game, and he now has two goals on four career shots.