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One problem solved, one to go

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - After two periods it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to let another member of the NHL's have-not club rough them up for a victory. That was until Mats Sundin delivered two fatal blows of his own.

A couple third-period markers by Sundin and an insurance goal from partner Mikael Renberg vaulted the Leafs to a 3-1 come-from-behind win over the Minnesota Wild at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.

Renberg was the real star in head coach Pat Quinn's eyes for his work on Sundin's game-winning tally.

"Renberg should have been first second and third (star) for that individual effort," Quinn said. "He back checked in a dangerous situation, he caught up to the play got the puck and went right down the other end and made the big play (pass to Sundin). It was certainly an heroic effort."

Toronto ran its winning streak to three straight games and seemingly solved the mystery behind its trouble with lesser opponents or more accurately recent expansion franchises. Toronto had posted a strange 2-2-0-1 record against Atlanta and Nashville before facing the Wild.
Mikael Renberg was key to the Leafs comeback.

"It's important points for us no matter if you're playing Minnesota or Philadelphia at this time of year," said Sundin, who guaranteed a win, down 1-0 in the second intermission, if the boys stuck to the game plan.

That kind of bravado isn't normally associated with Sundin but it impressed his linemate and co-gamesaver Renberg.

"I don't think I ever played with a player that positive, I mean we played bad the first two periods I thought, but he kept talking positive and got everybody going. He told everybody we're going to go out and win this game," said Renberg. "I think when a guy like that speaks up and says things like that all the players tend to believe. So that proves that he's the leader of this club."

Now riding back-to-back wins over two of the league's more standings-challenged teams --Toronto went into the All-Star break riding a 6-0 win over Atlanta-- the Leafs can focus on more important issues, like their schedule.

The Leafs have 27 games remaining --three before the Olympic break-- and 15 of those are within the friendly confines of Air Canada Centre. If that makes you think the Leafs could coast to the finish line, think again. Fifteen of the remaining games are against clubs sporting records of .500 or above.

Making the season-ending run more important is the fact 23 of the matchups will be against Eastern Conference foes, including six against divisional rivals. The Leafs get Montreal and Buffalo two more times and face Boston and Ottawa once more apiece.

Combine that with eight regulars going to Salt Lake City and it could make for some tired Leafs during their 24-games-in-46-nights stretch drive.

"I think some weeks we have four games a week. We just got to keep going and we'll get there," said Renberg, who would like to think positively about the Leafs being represented so heavily at the Olympics. "You can look at two ways (tired players) or we're going to have players going to play the whole time and come back in game shape so..."

The Leafs hope to deal with the schedule as easily as they did the Wild in the third.

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