Skip to main content


Maple Leafs-Capitals Preview @NHL

Mats Sundin is closing in on an impressive record for one of the NHL's storied franchises. Toronto's captain, however, is much more concerned with his team's playoff push.

Sundin can tie Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler's franchise record for goals Friday night as the Maple Leafs seek their third straight win when they meet the Washington Capitals.

Sundin, the first overall pick in the 1989 draft, spent his first four seasons with Quebec before he was traded to Toronto in June 1994. He has been the face of the Maple Leafs for 12 seasons and captain for nine, accumulating 388 goals and 509 assists in 895 games.

"I stopped counting goals a little while ago," Sundin said. "When you're 36, you look at the wins. You want to be one of those top eight teams to get a chance to compete for the championship."

His latest goal came Tuesday in a 3-2 victory over visiting Tampa Bay, leaving him one shy of Sittler, who played for the Leafs from 1970-82.

The game wasn't as close as the final score indicates - Toronto dominated throughout, outshooting the Lightning 24-8 over two periods.

"Once you win a couple games when you're down one or two goals, you don't really panic," Sundin said. "It felt like we were the better team, even when we were down a goal."

Chad Kilger and Nik Antropov also scored for the Leafs (34-27-9), who have won three of four to move into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Carolina and the New York Islanders, which are tied for seventh.

"This is going to be a race for us right down to the last game," Sundin said.

Toronto, which is still without All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle, plays three of its next four games on the road, where it is 19-12-4.

Darcy Tucker has had an immediate impact with the Leafs despite missing two months with a broken left foot. The rugged forward has three goals and one assist in five games since returning.

Andrew Raycroft stopped 24 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Capitals (24-34-13) on March 6. He is 4-2-0 with one tie and a 1.73 goals-against average in seven career games against them.

With upcoming games against Montreal and division leaders New Jersey and Buffalo, this is a golden opportunity for the Leafs to pick up two points against one of the league's worst teams.

Washington fell to 0-6-3 in its last nine games with a 4-3 shootout loss at Boston on Thursday despite a natural hat trick from Chris Clark.

The skid is the Capitals' longest since they dropped 13 in a row from Oct. 11-Nov. 11, 1981.

Olaf Kolzig was outstanding in net with 36 saves in his first game after missing 13 with a knee injury, but was beaten in the shootout by rookie Phil Kessel.

"I was thinking too much," Kolzig said. "He did the same thing he did to me in Washington, and I need to be smarter than that."

Toronto has won two of three meetings against the Capitals this season, including a 7-1 victory at Washington on Nov. 24. Sundin scored both goals in a 3-2 home loss to the Caps on Dec. 23.

View More