Mats comes up big after shaking boos

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:43 PM ET


 OTTAWA -- By Mats Sundin's standards, last night began as one of his worst playoff games as Maple Leafs' captain.

 He appeared rattled by the boos every time he touched the puck -- a tit-for-tat message from Ottawa Senators' fans for the razzing accorded Daniel Alfredsson in Toronto.

 He was smothered by Sens defenceman Zdeno Chara again, lost key faceoffs and had no shots on goal until late in the third period.

 But at 14:16, he bulled through Bryan Smolinski to drive a five-hole dagger through the heart of the Sens and 18,500 at the Corel Centre, letting No. 1 star Ed Belfour breathe easier.

 "He used his strength and you like to see him determined like that," defenceman Brian Leetch said of the goal that sealed the 2-0 win. "He's been a great player for a long time and it's great to see him get some results. That was a huge goal for us and we took a big step forward."

 Sundin got a head of steam in the neutral zone, eventually broke free of Smolinski and beat Patrick Lalime. For the superstitious, it was the 13th unanswered goal by the Leafs against Ottawa in the past three games in Ottawa and it was scored by No. 13.

 "I thought either Smolinski would pull me down (for a penalty) or I'd have a chance to shoot," Sundin said.

 He insisted the hostile crowd didn't faze him.

 "That's okay, it's playoff hockey and this is a tough building to play in," Sundin said. "Playoffs are a game of momentum swings and right now we have some. But we know how quick it can change. We realize we were fortunate. If we keep giving them 30 or 40 shots a night, some pucks are going to start bouncing their way."


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