Sundin walks out on his own

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:36 PM ET


 Mats Sundin left the Corel Centre in Ottawa last night without crutches or a limp.

 And had it been up to the Maple Leafs captain, he apparently would not have left the game against the Ottawa Senators in the first place.

 "Once he got hurt, he wanted to come back out but they scored a goal so the doctors kept him back," Leafs forward Tie Domi said after his team's 4-1 loss.

 Those words were encouraging for coach Pat Quinn's team.

 And so was the sight of Sundin walking to the team bus without favouring his left leg, which he injured at the 3:17 mark of the third period.

 Flanked by an NHL security representative on one side and Leafs PR man Dave Griffiths on the other, there were no signs of pain in Sundin's face as he made his way down a hallway.

 The lone indication of a problem was the angle of his left foot, which consistently was pointed in the position of 11 o'clock whenever it hit the floor. The foot did appear to drag a little as he prepared to step into the bus, perhaps a sign that the ankle was taped.

 While Leaf officials remained relatively mum on Sundin's status -- "Mats has a lower body injury, I don't know how he was hurt" was the company line offered by Quinn -- it will take a significant injury to keep Sundin from finishing this series.

 "I kept looking on every shift expecting to see him back on the bench," forward Nik Antropov said.

 Adding insult to injury was the fact Sundin almost tied the game 2-2 on the play. He was on a partial breakaway when the Sens' Wade Redden upended him, sending him crashing into the end boards.

 Twenty seconds later, Todd White gave the Sens a 3-1 lead.

 If the injury is more serious than it appears, the team could be without its top two centres for Game 5 tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre. Joe Nieuwendyk left Ottawa earlier in the day to return to Toronto when his recurring back trouble flared up.

 Should both be unable to go, the onus falls on Antropov and Ron Francis to pick up the slack in the middle.

 For that to happen, Antropov, who leads the team in penalty minutes with 14, will have to stop taking unnecessary minors.

 "I must be more disciplined and stay out of the box," he said.


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