Mats back to reality

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Mats Sundin probably wanted to say, 'I rushed back halfway around the world today for this?'

But the Maple Leafs captain, his body clock on 4:30 a.m. Stockholm time, could neither lash out or nod off when questioned about his team's 5-3 no-show loss in arguably its biggest game of the New Year. As on many nights this year, he and the Leafs were anxious to put this latest debacle behind and concentrate on two upcoming Northeast Division games.

But Toronto is running out of games, its playoff hopes growing dimmer with the defeat and Montreal's victory against the Islanders.

"It's tough to win hockey games (when) we beat ourselves tonight," said Sundin, who arrived at noon from a trans-Atlantic flight from Sweden's wild gold medal victory party. "On almost all five (Washington) goals, we had the puck and made some misplay on it and it goes in our net.

"We have a lot of work to do for sure. We have a few days to practice and a huge weekend ahead of us (in Buffalo on Friday and here against the Senators on Saturday), two teams that are playing very well."

Considering Sundin had an assist and was one of the Leafs better players, perhaps others should have hopped a plane and circled Pearson for seven hours. Toronto let in two goals in the opening minute of the first and second periods, missed eight power-play chances and gave up a short-handed goal to the Caps.

"They had the break off like we did so (rust) shouldn't have been a factor," Sundin noted.

Darcy Tucker said some of the Caps were laughing at the Leafs at the end of the game, though the visitors denied it and the Leafs had lost all sense of discipline at the final horn.

"They work hard and take the body, but we should have made them pay on the power play," Tucker said. "We had a goal out of the air, a goal off of a foot (by Alexander Ovechkin) ... it's the way things have been going against us all year."

The loss took a bit of shine off Sundin's gold medal and that of defenceman Aki Berg's silver for Finland. Sundin lost the draw on the opening goal and Berg took a soft penalty that led to the second.

"Everyone has to get better, myself included," Sundin said.

The day before he was in a chilly open air plaza in Stockholm with the rest of Team Sweden, reveling in Sunday's medal win.

Sundin was able to grab some sleep before the 7:30 p.m. start, but won't soon forget the celebration back home.

"I was in Toronto in 2002 when Team Canada won in Salt Lake and it was the same feeling in Sweden," he said.


Videos

Photos