December 30, 2005
Sundin sizzles, Biron fizzles
By MIKE RUTSEY, TORONTO SUN
In the shootout, Martin Biron had Mats Sundin figured out perfectly.
The only thing the Sabres goaltender couldn't do was stop him from scoring.
"I thought I had Sundin but it hit my glove, went off the post and stayed in," Biron said of of the shootout goal by the Leafs captain. "Most of the time the shootout is the matter of the first guy, you get a good rhythm, make a save, it builds confidence."
But it didn't go that way for Biron as Alexei Ponikarovsky followed Sundin's effort with a goal of his own and the Leafs won the shootout 2-0 to emerge with the extra point.
The fact Sundin was Toronto's first shooter was no surprise to Biron, who had his personal 13-game winning streak in the nets come to an end with a 4-1 loss to Florida Dec. 22.
"I went to the bench and asked 'Who do you think is going to come?' " Biron said of his approach to the shootout. "They said 'Sundin for sure.'
"I said I'm going to keep an eye on the high glove and also the move where he can fake the glove and go to his backhand. He's an experienced guy in shootouts.
"I had my glove up and when he went to shoot it I thought for a second, maybe five-hole, so I closed everything down real tight and it (Sundin's shot) just got a piece of my thumbpiece and went off the post and in. It's really frustrating to start like that."
The Sabres didn't start the game on a high note, either, as the Leafs stormed to a 2-0 lead.
It was tough sledding the rest of the way for Buffalo, one of the most surprising teams of the season.
"We got off to a tough start, obviously, but for us it was a big point with the Leafs coming off three wins in a row and us being able to battle back," said Buffalo's Tim Connolly, who had a goal and two assists.
"We've shown that the game's never over, we always try and come back in the third period."
The Sabres have built their record of 25-11-2 on the strength of strong goaltending, disciplined play and overall team speed. But they didn't play that way in the opening period.
"It was an up-and-down game, more up-and-down than we like to play," Connolly said. "Our game is not to give up 2-on-1s and 4-on-2s. We like to play a more disciplined game but that's the way the game went. The crowd got into it and it was a back-and-forth game, a pretty exciting game."
It just didn't start or end the way they wanted.