Leafs, Islanders fired up

Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov celebrate in this file photo.   (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov celebrate in this file photo. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

The New York Islanders should have plenty of motivation when they host the Maple Leafs at the Nassau Coliseum tonight.

And it has nothing to do with former Isles Jason Blake's return to the Long Island rink for the first time as a Leaf.

All it should take for the Isles to get fired up is the memory of their horrific 8-1 loss to the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Oct. 11, Toronto's most lopsided victory of the season.

The Isles proved to be the victims for the historic night authored by the Leafs' Mats Sundin, who was named the first-, second- and third-star of the game for his outstanding efforts.

By scoring his 390th goal and registering his 917th point as a Leaf in that game, Sundin moved past Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler to set club records in both categories.

Islanders goaltender Wade Dubielewicz, who started between the pipes in order to give No. 1 goalie Rick DiPietro a rest, called the outcome "embarrassing."

In more recent times, the Isles have been shrouded in controversy thanks to the 30-game suspension handed out last week to forward Chris Simon for stomping on the foot of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.

But lost in the fallout of Simon-gate is the fact that the Isles come into tonight's contest having won back-to-back games over the weekend.

A 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Mellon Arena Friday was followed by a 3-2 overtime win versus the Washington Capitals Saturday.

The triumph over the Caps allowed DiPietro to tie CBC analyst Kelly Hrudey (1983-89) for third on the Isles all-time wins list with 106.

Meanwhile coach Ted Nolan's oldest son, Brandon, was scheduled to make his NHL debut for the Carolina Hurricanes this past Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Zebra call

There was plenty of bitching about the officiating after Toronto's 2-1 overtime win against the Panthers in Florida on Saturday. An incredulous Matt Stajan said he was accused of diving by one official after being steamrolled by Ruslan Salei at the final buzzer, while some Panthers were livid at the minor handed out to Richard Zednik, who was in the penalty box when Pavel Kubina scored the winning goal. On the other hand, Leafs coach Paul Maurice praised referees Dan O'Rourke and Don VanMassenhoven. "They were consistent all night and let the guys play," Maurice said.


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