for this game

Sundin, Maple Leafs edge Capitals

Mar 2, 2008 - 4:58 AM
WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Captain Mats Sundin kept the Toronto Maple Leafs relevant in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Sundin scored a goal and set up two others as the Maple Leafs held on for a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Nik Antropov and Alex Steen also scored and defenseman Bryan McCabe added two assists for Toronto (29-28-10), which improved to 4-0-1 in its last five games and remained within five points of the Philadelphia Flyers (33-25-7) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Flyers defeated the New York Islanders, 4-1, earlier Saturday.

"The big boy had three points again. He's something else," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said of the 37-year-old Sundin. "Of all the wins, or maybe even games we've played this year, I think that was one of the toughest. Mentally, physically, we were exhausted. But we found a way to win the game. That was really outstanding."

Superstar Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal in eight games and Viktor Kozlov also tallied for Washington (30-28-8), which also is five points behind Philadelphia but saw its two-game winning streak end.

With the game tied at 1-1 near the midway point of the second period, Sundin converted for the Maple Leafs.

Toronto's all-time scoring leader, Sundin tallied for the fifth time in his last five games when McCabe dropped a pass that he wristed past goaltender Olaf Kolzig from the top of the right faceoff circle at 10:51.

"Sundin is, of course, a great player," Ovechkin said. "He's the leader of that team. Everybody looks at him, and he scores goals, he plays well defensively. The guy is one of the best centers in the league right now."

The goal was the 29th of the season for Sundin, who has drawn inspiration from the recent play of his younger teammates.

"The last month or so, I think we're doing a lot of good things, and it's mostly our younger players - Robbie Earl, Carlo (Colaiacovo), Ian White, (Anton) Stralman - all of these guys are bringing a lot of mobility and we're skating better," Sundin said.

"It seems we're not loose in our position as much, and that's a lot of credit to our young players that have been coming in, like Kris Newbury. All of those guys have done a good job."

After Steen upped the lead to 3-1 at 5:42 of the third period, Kozlov drew the Capitals within one at 9:38 with his 14th goal of the season.

Steen believes Sundin's performance inspired his teammates.

"He's been playing phenomenal," Steen said. "Just the play on my goal there - you kind of know that he knows where you are and that you're going to get the puck. All the younger guys, including myself, can really learn a lot from just watching Mats."

Vesa Toskala prevented Washington from getting the equalizer and finished with 26 saves for Toronto, which evened the four-game season series at two wins apiece.

"To be honest with you, the last five minutes, I was pretty much out of gas," Toskala said. "But in the end, those last four minutes, our players were blocking shots well. I think the Caps were a tired team, too, because they played last night. Two tired teams battled tonight."

Ovechkin ended his career-worst goalless drought at 15:47 of the first period with a blistering shot from beyond the left circle that sailed over the outstretched stick of Toskala. It was the All-Star's 49th goal of the season, three shy of his career high of 52 set during his rookie season in 2005-06.

The Russian star, however, was unhappy with his team's performance over the last 40 minutes.

"Unlike the first period, we just stopped playing in the second and third," Ovechkin said. "We didn't move the puck and started playing individually, and that's how we lost this game. There were chances, but we didn't play well defensively in the last 10 minutes of the game, and Toskala was doing an unbelievable job.

"We know how we have to play, but we changed our game in the second period, especially on the power play. We know what we have to do, and we just don't do it. It was our fault to lose this game."

Kolzig made 22 saves but fell to 13-16-4 lifetime against Toronto.

"We were desperate, and it's too bad we didn't have a few more minutes because they looked like they were out of gas and we just couldn't get the tying goal," Kolzig said.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 2 1 3
    WASHINGTON 1 0 1 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 49 (TOM POTI) 15:47
    2ND PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 23 (MATS SUNDIN, BRYAN MCCABE) 1:06
    TOR - MATS SUNDIN 29 (BRYAN MCCABE, JIRI TLUSTY) 10:51
    3RD PRD: TOR - ALEX STEEN 13 (MATS SUNDIN) 5:42
    WAS - VIKT

    Mar 1 9:36 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    WASHINGTON 2
    3RD PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 14 (ALEX OVECHKIN) 9:38

    Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 2  3rd - 10:22Mar 1 9:17 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 3
    WASHINGTON 1
    3RD PRD: TOR - ALEX STEEN 13 (MATS SUNDIN) 5:42

    Maple Leafs 3, Capitals 1  3rd - 14:18Mar 1 9:09 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 2 2
    WASHINGTON 1 0 1 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 49 (TOM POTI) 15:47
    2ND PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 23 (MATS SUNDIN, BRYAN MCCABE) 1:06
    TOR - MATS SUNDIN 29 (BRYAN MCCABE, JIRI TLUSTY) 10:51
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --

    Mar 1 8:41 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 2
    WASHINGTON 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - MATS SUNDIN 29 (BRYAN MCCABE, JIRI TLUSTY) 10:51

    Maple Leafs 2, Capitals 1  2nd - 9:09Mar 1 8:25 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 1
    WASHINGTON 1
    2ND PRD: TOR - NIK ANTROPOV 23 (MATS SUNDIN, BRYAN MCCABE) 1:06

    Maple Leafs 1, Capitals 1  2nd - 18:54Mar 1 8:09 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TORONTO 0 0
    WASHINGTON 1 1 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 49 (TOM POTI) 15:47
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    TOR 10 10
    WAS 12 12
    GOALIES: TOR - VESA TOSKALA
    WAS - OLAF KOLZIG

    Mar 1 7:46 PM


  • NHL
    TORONTO 0
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 49 (TOM POTI) 15:47

    Maple Leafs 0, Capitals 1  1st - 4:13Mar 1 7:39 PM
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