TORONTO (AP) _ Like most captains, Mats Sundin attempted to deflect the
attention to his teammates.
The Toronto Maple Leafs begged to differ, giving him all the credit for
leading them to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night.
``He's definitely one of the best players I've ever played with and he shows
up for big games every time,'' Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour said.
``He's huge for us all the time,'' Bryan McCabe said. ``He was our leader
tonight and everyone else followed.''
Sundin scored twice, and had a chance to add a few more, in helping Toronto
win its second straight to even the best-of-seven, second-round playoff series
with Game 5 at Philadelphia on Sunday.
Not bad for someone who was playing only his third game after missing four
with a leg injury.
``It felt good,'' Sundin said. ``There's nothing that bothers me with my
skating so for sure, a lot better.''
That was particularly evident on Sundin's second goal, capping a great
individual effort to give Toronto a 2-1 lead 7:45 into the second period.
Carrying the puck up the right side, Sundin cut to the middle catching
Flyers defender Vladimir Malakhov flat-footed. Kicking the puck to his stick,
Sundin then threaded a back-hander, beating Robert Esche through the legs.
Darcy Tucker also scored and Gary Roberts had two assists for Toronto, which
bounced back after losing the first two games at Philadelphia.
Belfour stopped 28 shots to record his 88th career playoff victory, moving
him into a tie for third place with former New York Islanders great Billy
The Leafs have won five straight at home, the first time they've done that
in one postseason since winning five in a row in 1976.
Simon Gagne scored for Philadelphia, which continues to look flat after a
4-1 loss in Game 3 on Wednesday, and playing nothing like the team that opened
the postseason by winning six of its first seven.
``They're getting production from key people,'' Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock
said. ``If we're going to win the series we're going to have to get the same
production from our key people.''
Mark Recchi, who led the Flyers with 75 points in the regular season, took
responsibility for the team's lack of offensive production.
``You can't come into another team's building and score two goals,'' Recchi
said. ``That's part of my responsibility. I take a lot of the heat for that. I
know I've got to be a lot better offensively.''
Gagne's goal, which opened the scoring 8 minutes in, came on a gift after
McCabe muffed a pass attempt in front of his own net.
The bounces went Toronto's way when Sundin tied it 10 minutes later, his
shot deflecting in off the leg of Flyers defender Marcus Ragnarsson.
The game's momentum shifted midway through the first period after the Flyers
had outshot the Leafs 10-5. Toronto rallied and was outshooting Philadelphia
21-13 when Sundin scored his second goal.
``They had the momentum for sure in the first 10 minutes or so,'' Sundin
said. ``Even though they got the lead, I thought we battled hard. It was a
great team effort.''
It was Sundin's first two-goal playoff game since he scored twice against
New Jersey in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals. It was also Sundin's 68th
playoff point, moving him into second place _ one ahead of Dave Keon _ among
Toronto playoff scorers.
And Sundin had a chance for a third goal, hitting the crossbar on a
breakaway with 20 seconds left in the second.
``Sometimes you have too much time to think,'' Sundin said, shaking his
head. ``I wish I had that one back.''
Tucker put the game away, deflecting in McCabe's shot from the point for a
power-play goal 2 minutes into the third.
Toronto's offense is suddenly capitalizing on its chances, having scored
seven goals in its last two games, after managing just 16 in their first nine