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Mats wants back on the scoresheet

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO -- Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can't score, yet in other instances, you could be blindfolded, wearing downhill skis and light the lamp.

It's safe to say Mats Sundin would like to get a little of what the Washington Capitals got.

The Leafs' captain failed to pick up a point in his fifth straight game while seemingly every time Washington touched the puck good things happened, at least until Robert Svehla's game-winning goal gave Toronto a 5-4 victory Tuesday night.

Deflections, bad bounces, tough breaks whatever you want to call them, they all fell in favour of the Capitals, but the Leafs prevailed through hard work and determination.

Sundin helped his team get firing early, registering a season-high 18 shots -- four of which were his. Had it not been for the spectacular goaltending of Olaf Kolzig this would have been over early. "Zilla" held his boys in the game until a 90-second barrage resulted in a 2-1 advantage, the fruits of a tip-in and a screen shot Ed Belfour had no chance of stopping.

"We started really well tonight, Kolzig really held them in especially in the first 10 minutes, then they had a couple breaks go their way," Paul Healey said.

Toronto exploded out of the gate in the second with three goals before the period was 10 minutes old. Tomas Kaberle, Robert Reichel and Mikael Renberg all picked up tallies and it looked as though the Capitals were done.

But after a quick rub of the eyes, four straight power plays, one disputed goal and another crazy deflection the Capitals found themselves in a 4-4 tie. The final kick in the groin was a five-minute major to Wade Belak that appeared as if it would end of the Leafs' chances of a celebration.

The power play carried over into the third and after some tough pressure, the Leafs held on without allowing that go-ahead marker, which surely would have meant another loss on home ice. Instead the hard work pushed into the following shift and Toronto got a powerplay of its own, which produced Svehla's game winner.

"I think this shows we're playing as a whole team," said centre Nik Antropov, who had a goal and an assist. "We're getting our confidence again."

Sundin wasn't in the mood for chatting despite the win, obviously frustrated with his inability to bulge the twine, but on this night his team picked up the slack.

"I think Mats has been playing excellent the last couple of games," Renberg said. "He's not scoring but he's leading the team."


  • Conspicuous by his absence was Alyn McCauley, who was a last minute scratch after taking the pregame skate. The Leafs' most reliable penalty killer jammed his thumb in Monday's loss to the Senators. He isn't expected to miss any more time.

  • Paul Healey earned big marks for effort out-skating Sergei Gonchar for the puck on a possible icing charge in the dying seconds of the game.
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