Leafs keep hope alive

Leafs celebrate Antropov goal. Toronto Maple Leafs in 1st period action against the Montreal...

Leafs celebrate Antropov goal. Toronto Maple Leafs in 1st period action against the Montreal Canadiens. (Stan Behal/SUN media)

MIKE ZEiSBERGER Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

Mats Sundin has watched Marty Brodeur eliminate his Maple Leafs from the playoffs on two different occassions this decade.

Now he is hoping the all-star goaltender of the New Jersey Devils can actually help the Leafs squeeze into the post-season.

Sundin's Leafs need a Devils victory over the New York Islanders this afternoon in order for Toronto to lock up a spot in the StanleyCup dance and ensure a first-round matchup with the BuffaloSabres.

""Absolutely,"Sundin said when asked if Brodeur should start for the Devils today. "Obviously I'm praying he plays. I'd be very disappointed if he doesn't."

Alas, Sundin and the Leafs might want to brace themselves for a letdown when the puck drops on the Devils and Islanders at 3:30 p.m.

Rusty backup Scott Clemmensen is expect to get the call for the Devils, who already have clinched the Atlantic Division and essentially have nothing at stake. Clemmensen is hockey's version of the Maytag repairman, appearing in only five games this season and posting a 3.47 average and .880 save percentage.

Brodeur plans to consult with the Devils coaching staff this morning, although it did not sound as if he thinks he will get the call.

"What happens if someone falls on my knee and I get hurt?"Brodeur said in a phone interview from New Jersey.

It's tough to think the Leafs can turn intoDevil fans, given the outrage they harboured when Cam Janssen cheap-shotted Tomas Kaberle last month.

But that will be the case thanks to a wild 6-5 Toronto victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens last night in front of a record crowd of 19,723 at the Air Canada Centre.

It was a memorable night for the huge throng, which was treated to a roller-coaster ride from the opening faceoff.

In the end, the Leafs managed playoff hopes alive despite a sub-par performance from goalie Andrew Raycroft.

Raycroft was yanked midway through the second period after allowing four goals and was replaced by backup J-S Aubin.

"Andrew Raycroft has been there for us all year,"said Sundin in defence of his goalie.

The game was a wild affair with the Leafs going up 3-1 only to see the Habs rebound with four consecutive goals to build up a 5-3 advantage of their own.

But goals from CarloColaiacovo, Bryan McCabe and Kyle Wellwood gave Toronto the victory and allowed them to survive for at least one more day.

Claiming he had been slew-footed by Habs captain SakuKoivu,Colaiacovo was limping around the dressing room after the game. But he claims he will be fine should theLeafs meet the Sabres later this week.

The turning point in the game came with the Habs up 5-4.As the buzzer sounded to end the second period,Steve Begin foolishly hit Wellwood in the face with his twig, earning a double minor for his actions.

"We knew in the second intermission that we had a good shot, especially with the power play coming up,"McCabe said.

Sure enough, goals by McCabe and Wellwood allowed the Leafs to tie their franchise mark for consecutive home wins with nine.

Now all that is left is to cheer for the Devils.

My, how times have changed.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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