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Players end slumps: Both lit lamp in Saturday's win over Montreal
Michael Traikos, National Post
Published: Monday, January 29, 2007


TORONTO - It was difficult to gauge who felt more relief with finding the back of the net on Saturday: Mats Sundin or Pavel Kubina.

Both players have gone through their own version of scoring slumps this season. And both put an end to it with goals in the Maple Leafs' 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens.

Sundin ended an eight-game goal-scoring drought by potting his 19th of the season. Kubina, meanwhile, recorded his first two-goal game since arriving in Toronto last summer.

"A big part of my job is to produce and score goals," said Sundin, whose goal in the second period ties him with Darcy Tucker for the team lead. "In all my 16 years in the league, you always go through periods where you're going to have weeks where the puck's not going in for you."

Though Sundin has had trouble scoring, he has not been entirely absent from the scoresheet. In the last nine games, the Leafs captain has chipped in with four assists. He leads all Toronto players with 43 points.

"I would have never guessed it was eight games, to be honest with you," goaltender Andrew Raycroft said of Sundin's drought. "He's been playing great. He's in on everything."

For Kubina, the two-goal night earned him "king of the world" honours from Bryan McCabe.

"Of course it's a relief," said Kubina, who after signing a lucrative four-year, US$20-million contract this summer, went his first 26 games in a Toronto uniform without a goal. He has four in the last eight games and 12 points on the season.

"I had a tough start to the season," he said. "I've had a lot of chances before, but either they missed the net or the goalie blocked them. It's always like that. Hopefully, from now on they're all going to go in."

Head coach Paul Maurice said it may be unrealistic to expect Kubina, who scored 17 goals with Tampa Bay in 2003-04, to achieve similar numbers as a No. 3 defenceman with the Leafs.

"He hasn't had a lot of powerplay opportunities, so the numbers aren't going to be what he's used to," said Maurice. "It's the other parts of his game that we hope will continue to get better."

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