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Canadian Press
10/14/2006 10:43:48 PM

TORONTO (CP) - Mats Sundin's 500th career goal packed quite a punch.

It was a game-winner, in overtime, short-handed, it tied Dave Keon for second all-time in Leaf goals at 365, and it polished off a hat trick. Ho-hum.

"Certainly, I'm proud of the accomplishment, and it makes it special the way it happened, to get the win in overtime, too," the 35-year-old star centre said after his team's thrilling 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames.

It looked as though it would be the Flames that would ruin the evening as they threatened on a 4-on-3 power play in overtime, but Sundin blasted a slap shot from just inside the blue-line 50 seconds into the extra period that rocketed past Vezina Trophy winner Miikka Kiprusoff. The goal ignited a raucous celebration by the 19,338 fans at Air Canada Centre.

"More than anything, it's nice to get it over with," Sundin said of the milestone goal. "I didn't want it to go 15 or 20 games into the season and still be looking for it."

The fans stayed on their feet and continued to shower applause on their beloved captain, an emotional moment that saw Sundin return the love by clapping in their direction after skating out as the game's first star.

"I realized the applause and the people standing and staying in the rink for me, that was just appreciation of that on my part," Sundin said of clapping his hands for them. "That just doesn't happen very often. I've been here for many years and it was a special moment for me. .

"It was very emotional."

It was a magical night in Toronto, one that saw the 12-year Leaf receive the kind of love from a crowd that took its time to embrace the Big Swede the way they worshipped Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour before him.

"It's only fitting that he score the overtime goal because he's scored so many huge goals for us," said linemate Darcy Tucker. "And it's great that he got that standing ovation from the fans."

Tucker and Alexander Steen also scored for the Maple Leafs (3-1-2), who were missing checking centre Michael Peca, day to day with a lower body injury.

Mark Giordano had his first two career goals for Calgary, while Matthew Lombardi and Daymond Langkow also scored for the Flames (2-2-1), who lost despite scoring a season-high four goals. They had entered the game with only five goals in their previous four games.

Giordano, a Toronto native who played in the Ontario Hockey League with Owen Sound, had family and friends on hand to witness his dream-like evening.

"It's tough to get tickets here but I tried to accommodate as many people as I could," he said. "I had about 10 people here, mostly relatives. I'm sure they were excited for me."

The Leafs deserved the victory, outshooting the Flames 43-30 but getting only average goaltending from Andrew Raycroft, which hasn't been the case very often so far this season.

Tucker, with his team-leading fifth goal of the season, opened the scoring 8:09 into the first period, sliding in a perfect cross-crease pass from Kyle Wellwood during a Leafs power play. The backdoor play between Wellwood and Tucker has become all too familiar early in this season and one opposing teams will start to pick up in their video sessions.

Sundin made it 2-0 with 4:32 left in the opening period just as a 5-on-3 power play was ending, blasting a one-timer in an open side after a fake shot and pass by Bryan McCabe.

Calgary cut the lead to 2-1 at 4:52 of the second period, when Giordano beat Raycroft with a wrist shot from the high slot that rang in off the post.


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What a finish! What a game by Toronto! Oh me!, Oh my!, Ooooh Baby! :D

I haven't enjoyed watching Leaf games in quite a while. This team, win or lose, finally makes it worth it.

I missed the game when it first aired, but I watched the replay of it after the Avs/Oilers game.

Congrats to Mats Sundin. You can't do much better --getting a 500th goal in such a situation. I'm not sure if his 2nd shot went off a stick or not, but it fooled Kipper, and the 3rd one was and absolute cannon. Not sure if it was tipped either, or if it just overpowered Kipper.

Alexander Steen finally ended his goaless streak. Hopefully he gets going and nets 20 on the year. I was wondering if it's because he's playing the RW instead of center, but if I remember correctly, he played RW a lot last season as well.

Tucker and Wellwood are an awesome pairing on the top line right now. Wellwood's displayed some tremendous playmaking skills with his "tomfoolery" ( :rolleyes: at Quinn), and it's great to see that Mats doesn't have to do all the carrying of the puck, the nifty work in the corners, and make all of his own plays. He's certainly getting some help now. ;)

Raycroft was average, but I'm thinking more about how Toronto seems to be creating so many chances in the other team's end this year. Outshooting the Flames 43-30 is no easy task, especially with how well Calgary plays defencively.

Another thing they have right now that they didn't have at all last season (and hardly the few previous) is chemistry. Other than the Roberts-Sundin-Mogilny line (Which Quinn managed to tinker with quite a lot) all the rest of the lines were changed every game. We're finally seeing lines that work.

The team is crashing the net, trying to win every battle in the corner, hitting hard on the forcheck when they dump in the puck, shooting from almost every angle, and there's much less floating out on the ice. O'Neill could do better, but he's much improved from when the season started. He's doing good on that line with Poni and Stajan.

Some one on Calgary's defence had a big game last night though.

Mark Giordano.

He scored 2 great goals in the game for Calgary, and he's from Toronto too. Nice way to make an impression. He played in 7 games last year and didn't do too much, but he did good yesterday.

Congrats to him on his first 2 career NHL goals. :)

Edit Reason: One more thing I fogot to add in here:

Cassie Campbell did a great job of commentating that game, especially right before the Tucker one-timer off of a pass from Wellwood.

She made history on Saturday, being the first woman to go into the booth for an NHL game on CBC.

I heard that she might be getting a chance to do so again sometime this season, so that's good. She knows her Hockey.
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