A thing of beauty

Maple Leafs forward Chad Kilger celebrates his first of two goals against the Hurricanes on...

Maple Leafs forward Chad Kilger celebrates his first of two goals against the Hurricanes on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Mats Sundin could care less if he ties Darryl Sittler's franchise record for goals.

"Not really," said Sundin, who has scored just once in his past 14 games. "Not if we keep winning like this."

With the Maple Leafs' supporting cast coming to the aid of their captain at just the right time of the season, Sundin and Co. find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt after a huge 6-1 drubbing of the Carolina Hurricanes last night.

Just one goal shy of Sittler's mark of 389, Sundin is in a drought. Of the 14 goals the Leafs have scored in their past three games, Sundin has just one point -- an assist.

Enter the likes of Chad Kilger and Boyd Devereaux, role players who have picked up the slack in a big way.

BIG SLUMP

On yet another night when Sundin was held off the scoresheet, Kilger led the way with a pair of goals while Devereaux, Yanic Perreault, Pavel Kubina and Alexei Ponikarovsky added singles.

The Leafs now are tied with the Hurricanes and New York Islanders with 84 points, just two behind the eighth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Tampa Bay Lightning, like the Habs, also have 86 points but are considered to be seventh on the grounds of more wins.

The Leafs are just three points behind the sixth-place New York Rangers.

"I just think we have been getting balanced scoring and have played with some urgency," Sundin said. "If you are going to make the playoffs you must have four lines going and that has been the case with us of late."

Coming out on top at home helps, too.

Struggling for much of the season at the Air Canada Centre, the Leafs have ripped off six consecutive victories there, tying their season high from 2005-06.

"If you want to be successful in this league, you have to win at home," Sundin said.

Just when the cynics were ready to issue the last rites to Paul Maurice's seemingly moribund squad, the Leafs have rebounded to win three of their past four games.

Now comes the fun part.

With less than two weeks left in the regular season, the Leafs have three games remaining at home and the same number on the road.

After visiting the Thrashers tomorrow, the Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday before travelling to New York for a date with the Rangers Sunday. Following a home meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday, the Leafs play on Long Island against the Islanders April 5 before finishing their regular-season schedule against the Montreal Canadiens April 7.

REPORT CARD

A Forwards: Helped light up 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward for five goals in about a period and a half before he got the hook in favour of John Grahame.

A Defence: Showed excellent quickness in passing the puck. Long breakout passes by Tomas Kaberle and Hal Gill both led to goals.

A Goaltending: Andrew Raycroft didn't have much work, but, as the tired ol' cliche goes, made the saves when he had to.


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