Leafs dynamic duo clicks

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 5:26 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- This was the highlight the Maple Leafs want to see again and again until the replay button wears down.

Mats Sundin, going to his backhand wraparound and Jason Blake finishing off, just as they did on last night's tying goal against the Phoenix Coyotes.

"I told him, 'Buddy, if you go to that position you'll score a lot of goals,' " Sundin said after the Leafs' 3-2 win.

Critical of his first line of Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky the night before, despite its goal, coach Paul Maurice must have wondered at times last night where the production from the Sundin-Blake-Nik Antropov line was going to emerge. It took it until 5:01 of the third to click, Sundin flicking away defenceman Keith Yandle and driving it at Alex Auld with Blake at the crease to bat it in. Blake almost scored on a couple of rushes that highlighted his outside speed.

"You saw it, a couple of guys get on Mats behind the net and I'm open," Blake said. "This is only pre-season, but it's what you have to use to get your timing down."

It was Blake's first game as a Leaf.

"I had to pinch myself," he said. "You're grateful to have spent seven years with one team (the Islanders), but this was it. It felt pretty good putting that jersey on today."

Sundin's goal led to Chad Kilger's 3-2 winner at 12:03, on a nice Bates Battaglia centring pass, moving Toronto's NHL exhibition record to 1-1.

Winnipeg native Ian White received a nice hand from 13,417 pro-Leafs fans at the MTS Centre -- about 2,000 shy of a sellout -- when the starters were introduced. But it was winger Alex Steen delighting his father and a legion of local supporters with the only first-period goal. Andy Wozniewski had the assist, giving the oft-injured defenceman six points in nine exhibition games since last year.

MUZZLED COYOTES

The Leafs killed off a lengthy 5-on-3 in the first, but that was partly because Wayne Gretzky's offensively challenged club was too disorganized. Phoenix's first shot of the second period beat Andrew Raycroft, Martin Hanzal getting past Hal Gill to tip Matt Murley's shot inside the post.

A poor breakout cursed the Leafs at 12:15 when Daniel Winnik took the loose puck at the blue-line and snapped it upstairs, but Raycroft stopped 20 of 22 shots to put Vesa Toskala under the spotlight tonight against the Coyotes in Toronto.

Maurice re-inserted Kilger, Simon Gamache and Jeremy Williams from Tuesday's lineup in Edmonton, with Kilger and Gamache giving him the best efforts. After assisting on the Steen goal, the 5-foot-8 Gamache was in Auld's face all night and won an exchange of big-time checks with the taller and heavier King City native Daniel Carcillo.

With all three of Toronto's alternate captains resting, Antropov and Gill got a bit of a thrill, wearing the 'A's behind Sundin.


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