Sundin, Belfour Hall of a pair

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

The Hockey Hall of Famers who applauded Mats Sundin and Ed Belfour last night will one day be moving over to make room for them at BCE Place.

Toronto's captain returned to active duty after a month-long absence to spark a 5-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Hall of Fame game at the Air Canada Centre. Sundin's goal and assist registered on many levels, putting the Leafs two games over .500 again, bringing winger Jeff O'Neill back to life and moving Sundin to within eight points of Glenn Anderson for 50th in National Hockey League career scoring. That's a group that already includes most of the Hall's skaters and the top of the waiting list.

Belfour, meanwhile, gutted out his 441st career victory as the Leafs were outshot 17-10 in a power play-dominated third period and 36-26 overall. Only Patrick Roy (550) and Terry Sawchuk (447) are ahead of him in NHL wins.

"I would agree (the two Leafs are Hall material), but they're a long way from being finished," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "They're trying to be good team people so they can add the (Cup) silverware to their accolades."

Sundin, placed between O'Neill and Alexei Ponikarovsky, played almost 20 minutes in his return, wearing a visor to protect his healing left orbital bone. Among the admirers in the crowd was fellow Swede and Hall member Borje Salming, whom Sundin is destined to pass in Leafs career points this year.

Sundin, who soon will be 35, agreed with Quinn that there's much to accomplish on the other side of the glass.

"I'm at the stage where I know my career is not going to last forever," Sundin said. "I'm just trying to enjoy every game. I feel fortunate to be part of this franchise and my only goal is to be part of a championship here.

"We want to make the playoffs and hopefully, (beating) the Stanley Cup champs will be a confidence builder."

For the struggling O'Neill, the Sundin set-up on the game's first strike was his first goal in nine games, since a hat trick in Atlanta.

"When you get a top player in the world back, it's an exciting time for anybody," O'Neill said. "We didn't have a great third period and we have to get more assertive with the lead, but we got the win."

Sundin actually kick-started two Leafs on the goal, as Bryan McCabe registered his first point since surging to the top of the scoring race five games ago.

Darcy Tucker made it 2-0 later in the period, at the end of a double minor he drew from an errant Martin St. Louis stick to his nose. Pavel Kubina and Nolan Pratt thought they'd smothered the puck, but Eric Lindros dug it free. Tucker's nose still was bleeding after the game from the hasty stitch job.

"It's a road map," Tucker said of the scars to his face so far this season. "But each time I've got them, we've won, so maybe I should get more. (Last night's) led to a win and that's what really matters."

Tampa got on the board at 3:52 of the second. A botched clearing attempt led to Evgeny Artyukhin's first NHL goal. Belfour later hacked the same player, leading to Vincent Lecavalier's 5-on-3 goal.

O'Neill and a pinching Ken Klee worked the puck to Sundin for his first of the year and Alex Steen took a Dave Andreychuk giveaway and beat John Grahame. Chad Kilger added an empty-netter.


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