Mats eyes elusive goal

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:43 AM ET

Mats Sundin's rocket-like climb up the Maple Leafs scoring charts curiously has bogged down within reach of the penthouse.

Sundin needs just one goal to tie Darryl Sittler for the career-franchise lead with 389 and would love to collect the milestone marker against the rival Ottawa Senators in tomorrow's season opener.

The gracious Sittler will be on hand at the Air Canada Centre and hopes Sundin finally can equal, if not surpass, the team record he still holds.

Trouble is, finding the back of the net has not been Sundin's forte dating back to the latter stages of last season.

With 20 games remaining, Sundin was just two behind Sittler's team record. But the goals suddenly dried up for the Leafs captain, who would light the red lamp just once the rest of the way.

"We all thought it would happen last year," Sittler, now an ambassador with the Leafs, said yesterday. "We all thought it would take place back in March. There were a number of times where I thought he had it and the goalie suddenly would make a big save or the puck would go off the post.

"I'm sure it will come. We need Mats to get off to a good start."

For his part, the veteran Swede said he has played the waiting game long enough. If he pots a pair against the Sens to leapfrog Sittler into the lead, well, it will be a relief for all parties involved, Sittler, Sundin and the fans included.

"I don't mind getting a couple the first night," Sundin said yesterday. "Obviously the sooner the better."

Meanwhile, Sundin needs just 10 points to tie Sittler as the Leafs' career points producer, perhaps the most prestigious of all the team marks.

He is also just six helpers shy of tying Sittler for second in the team's assist rankings, although he has a long way to go to catch leader Borje Salming.

Salming still is 99 assists ahead of Sundin, his friend from back in Sweden.

LEAFS CAREER SCORING LEADERS

GOALS

1. Sittler 389

2. Sundin 388

ASSISTS

1. Salming 620

2. Sittler 527

3. Sundin 521

POINTS

1. Sittler 916

2. Sundin 906


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