by Matthew Iaboni
November 26, 2005
(Toronto) -- Kyle Wellwood got his chance to play this season when Mats Sundin was injured on opening night. On Saturday night, the 22 year-old from Windsor got his chance to play with the Maple Leafs captain.
"Took me out of the blue," Wellwood said. "Last game I played a few shifts so I was hoping we could work off that."
The trio of Wellwood, Sundin and Steen were able to find each other in the offensive zone numerous times for several chances but they weren't able to beat Jose Theodore in the first.
In overtime, Sundin scored the winner on the power play as the Leafs defeated the Canadiens 4-3.
Mr.Clutch came through once again. Sundin had two points giving him 1,100th of his career and NHL record 14th overtime winner.
"Its an amazing record and we know him as a guy who can score big goals," head coach Pat Quinn said.
With the Leafs having the big three down the middle, Wellwood struggled to get ice time as the fourth line centre. Every time he is on the ice he makes things happen.
"Young Wellwood is a smart player and he dazzled sometimes out there," Quinn said.
Although his ice time in the first period was only 3:40, Wellwood saved his best for the next frame.
In the second period after taking a hooking penalty he had a great end to end rush as he made several moves to get past would-be-checkers but Theodore was just able to turn him aside.
The diminutive forward drew praise from his head coach about the way he can hold onto the puck longer then others.
"He is a guy that throughout (holding the puck) has been a strength," Quinn added. "People he has had success with read off that."
Even with the way Wellwood has begun his first full season in the NHL, Quinn believes that the best is yet to come for the youngster.
"He's a bright young fellow and he will push to expand his game."
Wellwood played 13:26 and just 1:21 on the power play as Quinn isn't sure if he should put Wellwood on the second unit with Jason Allison and Eric Lindros.
"Yeah you know you're tempted to put him in but O'Neill has been good on it," Quinn said. "We tried once with him on the power play and he should do well on the power play with his skill and smarts."
A quarter of the way into the season one of the things the Leafs have been happiest about is the emergence of the young players on the team. Not only has Wellwood found a permanent spot on the team but so has Alex Steen. Matt Stajan has done well in his second season and Staffan Kronwall has been solid on defence after starting the season with the Toronto Marlies.
The news wasn't all that good as Kronwall left the game in the second period with a knee sprain and he did not return to the lineup. After the game Quinn said that he didn't think Kronwall will make the trip down south this week.
Leafs forward Darcy Tucker missed his second straight game as his wife gave birth to a baby boy.