Make it so, Mats

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

As coach Paul Maurice observed yesterday, it will be very hard for Mats Sundin to keep his traditional low profile in Tuesday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

With three assists last night, Sundin now could break Darryl Sittler's points record of 916 as a Maple Leaf before he passes him with his 390th goal.

He needs two assists against the Hurricanes to become the club's points leader, a more significant mark than the goals.

"Mats is such a quiet man about these kinds of achievements," Maurice said before yesterday's 4-3 win over the Canadiens. "He has no interest in any of the (build up). The best pictures taken of Mats are the ones where he's smiling when celebrating someone else's goal.

"This is one of those games where he can't escape. But I'm sure he's focused on putting as much distance between it as he can."

Sittler was not at the Air Canada Centre last night, attending an annual family Thanksgiving gathering in tribute to his late wife Wendy, who died of cancer six years ago. He likely will be there Tuesday.

With three more home games this week, the reliable point-a-game Sundin should be able to break both records at the ACC.

The game against Montreal was the perfect stage for Sundin, who has played for two of the Canadiens' greatest rivals, the Leafs and Quebec Nordiques.

"They're great games, the fans enjoy them and so do the players," Sundin said before last night. "They're good, hard games, played at a playoff pace.

"But I have bigger (team) goals to worry about. We've played some good hockey the first two games and have nothing to show for it."

Former Hab Darcy Tucker hoped he might have a shot at assisting on the Sundin goal.

"I've been around Mats a long time and I scored the night he got the assist to pass Borje Salming (for third in points with 769)," Tucker said. "But stuff like that doesn't enter our minds in a game. It's just important to win and that's all we're trying to do."

Sundin will have a longer wait to get the Leaf record for assists. He has 526, with Salming (620) and Sittler (527) to pass. He is currently working on a one-year contract, too. Counting his four years in Quebec, Sundin has 1,249 points in 1,234 NHL games.

---

CHASE IS ON

Mats Sundin's point production vs. NHL teams. Minimum 40 games:

BEST FIVE

Team GP Points

Montreal 79 76

Pittsburgh 50 74

Buffalo 80 70

Carolina 61 66

Ottawa 65 61

Sundin's best goal production vs. NHL teams.

Team GP Goals

Pittsburgh 50 37

Montreal 79 30

Carolina 61 30

Buffalo 80 27

Tampa Bay 44 27


Photos