Mats Sundin hit a major milestone last night but something he did for the 14th time was a bit more significant for the Maple Leafs.
With a goal at 1:29 of overtime, Sundin not only moved into first in NHL history with goals in the extra period in the regular season but also gave the Leafs a 4-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens.
Before a season-high crowd of 19,505 at the Air Canada Centre, Sundin's pass intended for Jeff O'Neill bounced back to him off Francis Bouillon. Goalie Jose Theodore anticipated the pass and Sundin tucked the puck into the open net.
"It's good timing because I started to play when they started to use overtime (in the regular season)," Sundin said with a chuckle. "I'll take it. We should be pretty pleased."
Sundin earlier assisted on a goal by O'Neill for his 1,100th NHL point, moving him past former Leaf Glenn Anderson for 50th on the career list. Sundin had been tied with Sergei Fedorov with 13 overtime goals. Sundin got the winner as Habs defenceman Craig Rivet sat in the penalty box for tripping Nik Antropov as regulation time expired. When asked about the call, a perturbed Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said he had no comment.
The Leafs lost rookie defenceman Staffan Kronwall to a strained right knee in the second period and coach Pat Quinn said Kronwall will not make the three-game trip that starts tomorrow in Florida against the Panthers. Quinn expected Carlo Colaiacovo will be recalled from the Toronto Marlies.
Aside from the play of their captain, there were some good signs for the Leafs after a couple of losses that followed a four-game winning streak. The Leafs tightened up, performing with the kind of discipline that has made them successful. In losses to Boston and Carolina in the previous two games, the Leafs were shorthanded a total of 15 times and allowed four power-play goals. Against Montreal, the Leafs went down a man just three times and killed off all three.
"It was probably the leading point of our game preparation, to talk about penalties," Quinn said. "The past two games it hurt us and you can't win with that stuff."
Jason Allison and Chad Kilger, a day before his 29th birthday, scored in the first period to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. But that was erased by goals from the Canadiens' Mike Ribeiro and Alexander Perezhogin in the second. O'Neill put the Leafs up 3-2 late in the second, only to have Tomas Plekanec score late in the third after Allison lost the puck.
Ed Belfour picked up his 446th career win, and is one behind Terry Sawchuk for No. 2 on the NHL list. Darcy Tucker was absent as his wife Shannon gave birth to a boy last night. Tucker will join his teammates in Florida.
Though happy with a win, Quinn was not about to call it a roaring success.
"We were very good early," Quinn said. "We were moving our feet, had good checking and moved the puck well. We backed off in the second, and in the third, got a little afraid of giving up the lead again and started to give the puck away. But we had lots of good stuff (overall)."