Sundin scored on the power play 2:56 into the extra period as the Maple Leafs squandered another two-goal lead before pulling out a 4-3 triumph over the Washington Capitals.
Before the game, Sundin was saluted for becoming just the fourth player in team history to record his 1,000th point and play his 1,000th game in a Maple Leafs’ uniform.
“It’s awesome,” Toronto’s captain said. “I really appreciate the organization and the fans. Since I came here, I’ve been treated very well. … It’s been great. Hopefully, I’ve still got a few more good years in me, but certainly, a great ceremony and something I’ll remember the rest of my life.”
After Toronto blew a 3-1 lead late in regulation, it caught a break when Capitals defenseman Sergei Gonchar clipped Owen Nolan in the face and drew a double-minor for high-sticking 88 seconds into overtime.
“I didn’t mean to get the guy in the face,” Gonchar said. “It just happened. It’s kind of my fault. I’ve got to control my stick better, but it happens.”
On the ensuing power play, Sundin carried down the right side, worked a give-and-go with Alexander Mogilny and tapped the return feed past out-of-position goaltender Sebastien Charpentier. It was the 36th goal of the season for Sundin, who shares the NHL record with 12 career regular-season overtime winners.
“Maybe it was scripted,” Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn joked. “It was a wonderful play by those two and it seemed to cap off a terrific night (for Mats).”
Mogilny also had a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs, who have blown two-goal leads in four of the last seven games but are unbeaten in four straight at home (2-0-2).
“I wish it would have ended earlier,” Sundin said. “You need to close the deal when you’re up in the third. They battled back. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized. But it felt good to get the two points.”
Peter Bondra set up Steve Konowalchuk’s power-play tally before getting the equalizer for Washington, which completed a 3-2-0-1 road trip through Canada. The Capitals remained two points behind first-place Tampa Bay in the Southeast Division.
“One (point) is good, two is better,” Washington coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’d like to think we still have a chance, but we just want to win.”
Toronto had a 7-6 edge in shots in a scoreless first period, then took the lead with 4:03 to go in the second. On the power play, defenseman Bryan McCabe got a cross-ice pass from Robert Reichel and wristed a shot from just below the left faceoff dot that sneaked between Charpentier’s right pad and the near goalpost.
Defenseman Rick Berry tied it for Washington just over two minutes later when his slap shot from the blue line made it through traffic and eluded goalie Ed Belfour. It was his second goal of the season and first in 13 games for Berry.
Mogilny put the Maple Leafs back in front 25 seconds into the third period. While killing a penalty, he wristed a shot from the left faceoff dot that hit the heel of Charpentier’s glove and found the net.
“Charpie was awesome tonight,” Berry said. “He got us the point, I believe. We had to come back and score two in the third, but he was there for us early in the game and kept us in it.”
Konowalchuk flipped in a rebound of Bondra’s shot with 6:56 remaining to start Washington’s comeback. Bondra completed it 3:11 later when he was able to get by McCabe in front of the net and tap in a pass out of the left corner by former Leaf Sergei Berezin.
“It shows character coming back from 3-1,” Gonchar said. “It’s one of those games that everyone feels is important.”
“It’s tough to let it slip away when you’re up, 3-1,” Sundin said. “But we showed again that we’re capable again to win in overtime.”