Sundin snaps slump as Leafs even series with Pens
Posted: Monday May 10, 1999 01:51 PM
TORONTO (AP) -- Mats Sundin made up for a lack of playoff scoring with one great night's work.
"As a whole team, we played a lot better," Sundin said. "We got our transition game going."
Sundin, who had not scored since Game 2 of the first round against Philadelphia, scored a goal in each of the first and second periods and assisted on goals by linemates Steve Thomas and Lonny Bohonos, whose unexpected appearance invigorated the Maple Leafs' first line.
"Our line was able to produce and it was about time," said Sundin. "This is the best I've felt so far in the playoffs."
Game 3 in the Eastern Conference semifinal is Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Titov's goal off a cross-crease pass from Jaromir Jagr 12:42 into the third period set up a tense finish. But Thomas's slap shot from the circle to the left of goalie Tom Barrasso high into the Pittsburgh net at 16:50 ended the suspense.
Penguins coach Kevin Constantine yelled at referees Don Koharski and Paul Stewart, and offered mock applause, after a non-call on the play that led to Toronto's fourth goal. Bohonos had knocked Jiri Slegr down in stripping him of the puck near the Pittsburgh blue line. Bohonos passed to Sundin, who set up Thomas.
"I felt I played him strong and took the body," Bohonos said. "I guess it could have gone either way, but it's playoff hockey."
Bohonos, who has bounced between the NHL and the AHL for five years, was brought up after the elimination last week of the St. John's farm team. He hadn't expected to play, but was given the left-wing spot of Freddie Modin, who was dropped from the lineup because of his lack of productivity.
"I've played with Mats and Steve before when I've been called up, and they're two great players," said Bohonos, who was told five minutes before the opening faceoff he'd be starting. "I just tried to create some speed for them and get them the puck and go to the net."
The Maple Leafs took a 2-0 lead in the first period, outshooting the Penguins 12-7. Bohonos backhanded in a rebound at 6:06, and got an assist when Sundin did the same at 14:41 on a power play.
"We looked around on the bench and it was like, `Hey, where has this guy been all year?'" Sundin said. "He played a great game.
"The way he started the first period, he was unbelievable."
It was the first time this post-season that Toronto scored first.
"Getting the first two goals was great for our psyche," said Thomas. "It gave us the confidence that we could beat them."
The Maple Leafs were skating faster than in Game 1 to avoid Pittsburgh's neutral-zone defensive trap, and they were playing with a lot more intensity than they had during that 2-0 loss Friday.
Sundin flattened Jagr at center with a shoulder check in the fifth minute of the second period. The NHL scoring champion's stick flew into the air, and Jagr was slow getting up. Jagr, playing at half speed with a strained groin, did not miss a shift.
"He played a lot better and dominated the game," Jagr said of Sundin. "That's what I didn't want to happen -- is to see him get back on track."
Said Thomas: "Mats stood up and led like a true captain. He played a tremendous game, showed tremendous leadership."
"[Toronto] obviously played well and we weren't good enough," said Constantine. "Their guys worked hard. We had our chances but Curtis was good."
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