Leafs Win In Overtime Again
TORONTO (CP) -- Mr. Overtime came through again.
Sundin and Sergei Fedorov started the season with 13 each.
"It's good timing,'' the Leafs' self-effacing captain said of his sudden-death heroics. "I started to play (15 years ago) when they started to use overtime.''
Craig Rivet was penalized for tripping Nik Antropov as regulation time expired and the Leafs moved in for the kill.
When Sundin tried to pass to Jeff O'Neill from close range, the puck struck Canadiens defenceman Francis Bouillon. Goalie Jose Theodore was moving away from Sundin and towards O'Neill on the other side of the crease. The puck caromed right back to Sundin, who calmly slipped it into the open side of the net 1:29 into extra time.
"It was four on three and you usually get a good scoring chance,'' said Sundin. "I tried to get it over to Jeff and it came back to me with an open net. I'll take it.''
So will coach Pat Quinn.
"He's a guy who scores big goals, and that one was a testament to that fact,'' said Quinn.
The Canadiens weren't happy with the penalty call on Rivet.
"It's frustrating,'' said captain Saku Koivu. "I think there were some calls to be made before that but (the referees) didn't.
"Then they call that one right at the end and it's four on three _ a tough way to start overtime.''
The Maple Leafs were 2-for-6 and Montreal 0-for-3 on power plays. Theodore thought the referees were on Toronto's side.
"It's hard to play seven against five for the whole game,'' he said.
The Leafs had buried the Canadiens in a 2-0 hole in the early going and wound up hanging on for dear life to eke out the win.
Jason Allison, Chad Kilger and O'Neill also scored for the Leafs, 13-8-3, who have won three of their four meetings with Montreal this season.
Sundin's assist on O'Neill's goal was the 1,100th point of his career.
The sudden-death clincher capped his big night. Since the start of the 2000-2001 season, Sundin has scored more winning goals, 34, than any other NHL player.
Mike Ribeiro, Alexander Perezhogin and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens, 14-7-3, who lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
Ed Belfour's 446th win left him one shy of tying the late Terry Sawchuk for second place on the all-time goaltending list. Patrick Roy holds the record with 550.
Most of the first period was played in the Montreal end. All three penalties in the period were against the Canadiens, so the Leafs had plenty of opportunity to pour it on in front of a capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,505. They didn't score on the power plays, but they got two even-strength goals and had a 16-7 shots advantage.
Allison got a rebound and slid the puck into an open side of the net at 5:35 with Theodore swimming in the crease.
Kilger slipped a backhander past a kneeling Theodore to end a scramble at 16:59. Kilger produced an especially robust effort on the eve of his 29th birthday against the team that discarded him on waivers in March 2004.
Montreal got right back into it when Ribeiro scored 7:18 into the second period. He took a wrist shot from the circle to the right of Belfour, and the puck found a narrow gap between Belfour's right arm and the post. It was Ribeiro's first goal since Oct. 27.
Perezhogin tied it at 11:00 when he deflected in an Andrei Markov shot.
Toronto regained the lead on a power play at 16:33. Sundin wound up as if to shoot, freezing Theodore, and slapped the puck to the front of the crease so O'Neill could redirect it into the open side of the net for his team-leading 11th goal.
Referee Kevin Pollock should have been awarded an assist. He'd sent Steve Begin to the penalty box for hooking after O'Neill fell while battling Begin for a loose puck. Cheap, cheap, cheap.
Shots were 13-13 in the second period.
The Canadiens got stronger as the game progressed. They were outplaying the Leafs in the third _ they'd outshoot them 13-6 in the period _ and they tied it 3-3 when Plekanec scored at 15:11. The Czech left-winger picked the far top corner of the net on Belfour's stick side with a wrist shot from the circle to the goalie's left.
"They were missing some key players but they kept coming,'' said Sundin. "They earned a point and almost won the game.''
Toronto would get the only two shots in overtime. The Habs had given the Leafs a scare.
"There's a lot of positive things in coming back,'' Koivu said. "We were down 2-0 in Toronto and that's not an easy place to come back.''
Notes: The Leafs outshot the Canadiens 37-33. They had a 38-35 edge in a 4-3 shootout loss Friday at Carolina. It was the first time this season they outshot opponents two games in a row ... The Leafs have allowed 30 or more shots in 18 of their last 19 games ... The Leafs fly south for games Monday against Florida, Wednesday against Tampa Bay and Thursday at Atlanta. Staffan Kronwall won't be going with them. The defenceman strained a knee in a pileup with Markov into one of Belfour's posts ... Montreal's next game is Tuesday in Ottawa ... LW Darcy Tucker missed his second game in a row to be with his expectant wife ... The Canadiens were without Alexei Kovalev (right knee surgery Nov. 15) and Sheldon Souray (groin) ... Theodore attended Vladislav Tretiak's summer goaltending school and intended to wear Tretiak's 20 when he moved up to the NHL in 1996, but Belfour decided to wear 20 when he moved to the San Jose Sharks that year so Theodore searched for a new number. The Habs equipment manager suggested 60 because no goalie had ever worn the number.