Tucker gets a promotion

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin proved to be quite the dynamic duo late in the Maple Leafs 2-1 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers Monday night.

So much so, in fact, that coach Paul Maurice is not about to break up the partnership between the feisty winger and the big Swede.

Replacing Alexei Ponikarovsky on the Leafs' top line in the third period, Tucker showed outstanding chemistry with Sundin and winger Kyle Wellwood for the rest of the evening.

After Tucker assisted on Wellwood's game-tying goal with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation, he and Sundin beat outstanding Panthers goalie Alex Auld in the shootout to give the Leafs their first home ice victory of the 2006-07 season.

Hoping to keep up the momentum, Maurice plans to keep the Tucker-Sundin-Wellwood combination intact when the Leafs travel to The Swamp to face off against the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night.

"I do have an idea where Mats will be out on the ice," Tucker said last night. "Then again, I should. I've been with him for seven years, so it helps.

"One thing I've really noticed about Mats this year is how intense he is. He's on a mission, and I can understand that. We all are upset at missing the playoffs last year and don't want it happening again."

Ponikarovsky, meanwhile, will start alongside Matt Stajan and Jeff O'Neill, a trio that impressed Maurice in the latter stages of Monday's win.

"I thought Alexei looked good with those guys," Maurice said yesterday. "I thought they created a lot of good chances. In fact, keeping Pony on that line had as much to do with the (line shuffling) as putting Darcy with Mats did."

Meanwhile, young Alexsander Suglobov returns to the lineup just in time to face the Devils, the organization that traded him to Toronto last March. With Wade Belak moving back to defence, Suglobov will take his spot on the fourth line with John Pohl and Bates Battaglia.

The only line not effected by the shakeup is the Alex Steen-Mike Peca-Chad Kilger unit.

AUBIN STARTS TOMORROW

The game against the Devils also will serve as the 2006-07 regular-season debut of goalie J-S Aubin. New Jersey was the same place where Aubin kicked off his sizzling 9-0-2 run late last season.


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