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Sundin Sets Goal and Points Record

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- After losing the Toronto Maple Leafs' franchise record for most points, Mats Sundin hit the ice and took it right back.

Sundin scored in the third period for his 390th goal and 917th point in the blue and white, both new club records, as the Maple Leafs hammered the New York Islanders 8-1 on Thursday night.

The 36-year-old Swedish captain entered the game tied with Darryl Sittler in franchise goals and points. Sundin broke both records when he attempted pass that caromed in off the skate blade of Islanders defenceman Brendan Witt at 9:54 of the third period.

When Sundin went to the bench, his teammates stood and banged their sticks against the boards while the crowd cheered the captain.

They'd done the same in the second period when Sundin was credited with an assist, and for 20 or 30 minutes he held the club points record all alone. But Sundin talked to the on-ice officials to let them know he hadn't touched the puck on the play, and the crowd moaned when it was announced five minutes into the third period that the point had been taken away.
Sundin soaks it up after breaking the Leafs scoring record.
Graig Abel Photograpgy

``I actually went to the penalty box and they said, `I think they're going to take your assist away,' and I said, `I think so, too, because I didn't touch the puck,''' Sundin explained. ``I'm very glad it ended the way it did.

``It would have been embarrassing otherwise.''

 Nik Antropov, Ian White, Tomas Kaberle, Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Andy Wozniewski, with his first NHL goal, and Simon Gamache, with his first as a Leaf, also scored. Stajan had three assists and Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina two each.

``I'm extremely happy for him,'' Tucker said of Sundin. ``He's the face of the franchise and has been for a number of years.

After the game, Air Canada Centre announcer Andy Frost announced the three stars, and it was Sundin, Sundin and Sundin as more than 19,000 roared their approval.

``The fans sticking with this team, which hasn't won a championship since '67, is a big carrot for us coming back every year to try and achieve that,'' Sundin said as a media throng surrounded him at his dressing room stall afterwards. ``Tonight they were outstanding again and helped us play this game and helped us bounce back after a very disappointing game the other night.

``My respect has grown every year as a player for this city, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the fans. Hopefully, it's grown the same for me as a player.''

The Leafs were looking to bounce back from a 7-1 home loss to Carolina on Tuesday.

``Every team is going to lose at some part of the season (by big scores) _ even the team winning the Stanley Cup,'' said Sundin. ``It's how you respond after a loss like that, and I thought we responded well.

``We know we still have a lot of work to do but it is a character builder when you bounce back like that in front of your home fans and we showed our fans we're not going to lay down and it was nice to see.''

``No matter what happens he never seems to get too high or too low. It's always, `Boys, we'll bounce back. Boys, we need to pick it up.' He never lets us get off-kilter, which is great for a team that has a few younger guys this year.''

Stajan and the other Leafs youngsters idolize Sundin.

``I watched him growing up,'' said Stajan. ``I was only 10 or 12 years old when he got traded here.

``I got to watch him a lot and I've been lucky now to play with him in this my fourth year. You couldn't ask for a better guy to be your captain.''

Ruslan Fedotenko was the only Islander to put a puck behind Leafs goalie Andrew Raycroft.

``It was embarrassing,'' said Wade Dubielewicz, who was in the Islanders nets to give No. 1 Rick DiPietro a rest. ``The effort just wasn't there _ from me on out.''

The losers were gracious enough to praise Sundin.

``Mats is an all-star player and what he means to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the city, the type of gentleman that he is, it's fitting for him to get that many goals and that many points,'' said Islanders coach Ted Nolan. ``He's a heck of a player.''
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