for this game

Sundin lifts Maple Leafs past Capitals

Jan 24, 2008 - 4:07 AM
TORONTO (Ticker) -- Mats Sundin welcomed back Cliff Fletcher in style.

The captain scored the eventual game-winning goal with 29.2 seconds remaining in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2, on Wednesday.

One day earlier, the Maple Leafs shook up their front office, firing general manager John Ferguson and replacing him with 72-year-old Fletcher, who previously held the job from 1991-97.

"I'm hoping that we can get some momentum and put a few wins together and move back into serious contention for a playoff spot," Fletcher said during the second intermission. "Every team in the league has their own character based on the type of personnel they have, our team is a little different than Washington. We'll see what our team looks like at the end of the year."

At the end of the game, the Maple Leafs were looking good, thanks to Sundin - who was acquired by Fletcher from the Quebec Nordiques in 1994.

With the game tied at 2-2 late in the third period, Alex Steen wristed a shot on goal which goaltender Olaf Kolzig denied with his right pad. Sundin corralled the rebound and fired it past the netminder for his 21st goal of the season and tied him with Maurice Richard (544) for 24th in all-time NHL goals.

"Alex Steen shot the puck, Kolzig had a tough time controlling the rebound and it came out to my stick," Sundin said of his game-winning goal. "I just tried to whack it and it snuck underneath him.

"Sometimes when you score late in the game, it builds confidence."

Vesa Toskala stopped 30 shots to improve to 17-13-4 this season. The goaltender was a key acquisition by Ferguson in a trade with San Jose in the summer.

"One game doesn't make a big difference in the big picture, but it was good to have a win in his (Fletcher's) first game," Toskala said. "It was a huge two points for us."

Chad Kilger opened the scoring just 7:12 into the game.

After Washington turned the puck over in its own end, defenseman Anton Stralman gained possession at the blue line and wristed a shot toward the net. Skating through the slot, Kilger deflected the puck past Kolzig for his ninth goal of the season.

"Obviously with the changes, we realize that we've disappointed - and we realize that in this room, we have a good team and that we just have to prove it," Kilger said.

Alex Ovechkin leveled the contest 2:27 into the second period, wristing a shot from the slot past Toskala for his league-leading 39th goal.

The 22-year-old Russian superstar has recorded at least one goal in all six games since he signed his 13-year, $124 million contract on January 10. Ovechkin has seven goals and four assists in that stretch.

Despite his individual success on Wednesday, the 2006 Calder Trophy winner tipped his hat to Toskala.

"A tough goalie we played today - he played unbelievable, he won the game for them," Ovechkin said. "I think we dominated them and we had more chances."

Steen regained the lead for the Maple Leafs with 76 seconds remaining in the period.

Stationed in back of the net, Sundin moved out front - drawing the attention of two defenders - before feeding Steen in the left faceoff circle. Steen snapped a wrist shot past Kolzig for his third goal in his last four games.

Alexander Semin leveled the contest at 2-2 with 6:53 remaining in the third period.

The talented Russian skated in, faked Toskala to the ice before backhanding the puck into the net for his 12th goal of the season.

"We came back for the first time in a long time when we were down in the third period," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "To give that one up (Sundin's goal), it hurts - but you've got to let it go."

Toronto's Alexei Ponikarovsky left the game in the first period after being on the receiving end of a hit from defenseman Steve Eminger.

Ponikarovsky, who retreated to the locker room, injured his right shoulder and did not return to the contest.

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice deemed it a significant injury and does not expect Ponikarovsky to return to the lineup for quite some time. The team will re-evaluate him on Thursday.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 1 1 2
    TORONTO 1 1 1 3 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - CHAD KILGER 9 (ANTON STRALMAN) 7:12
    2ND PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 39 (OLAF KOLZIG, STEVE EMINGER) 2:27
    TOR - ALEX STEEN 10 (MATS SUNDIN, NIK ANTROPOV) 18:44
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEXANDER SEMIN 12 (DAVID STECKEL) 13:07

    Jan 23 10:00 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    TORONTO 3
    3RD PRD: TOR - MATS SUNDIN 21 (ALEX STEEN, NIK ANTROPOV) 19:30

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:59 PM
  • 30
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    RUWTbot Took away 52 roots (Close Finish)

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:59 PM
  • 82
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    RUWTbot Added 57 roots (Close Finish)

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:54 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    TORONTO 2
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEXANDER SEMIN 12 (DAVID STECKEL) 13:07

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:49 PM
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    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:49 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 1 1
    TORONTO 1 1 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - CHAD KILGER 9 (ANTON STRALMAN) 7:12
    2ND PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 39 (OLAF KOLZIG, STEVE EMINGER) 2:27
    TOR - ALEX STEEN 10 (MATS SUNDIN, NIK ANTROPOV) 18:44
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL

    Jan 23 9:07 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    TORONTO 2
    2ND PRD: TOR - ALEX STEEN 10 (MATS SUNDIN, NIK ANTROPOV) 18:44

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 9:06 PM
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    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 8:52 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    TORONTO 1
    2ND PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 39 (OLAF KOLZIG, STEVE EMINGER) 2:27

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 0
    TORONTO 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: TOR - CHAD KILGER 9 (ANTON STRALMAN) 7:12
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WAS 10 10
    TOR 7 7
    GOALIES: WAS - OLAF KOLZIG
    TOR - VESA TOSKALA

    Jan 23 8:15 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 0
    TORONTO 1
    1ST PRD: TOR - CHAD KILGER 9 (ANTON STRALMAN) 7:12

    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 23 7:53 PM
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    Capitals vs. Maple LeafsJan 22 9:00 PM