Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3
TORONTO (AP)—Toronto’s best players stepped up in a game the Maple Leafs couldn’t afford to lose.
Mats Sundin scored twice, and Kyle Wellwood and Jason Allison also scored power-play goals for the Maple Leafs, who were in danger of dropping 10 points behind Montreal for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We all know we have to win a lot more games. This is certainly a start,” Sundin said.
After Toronto lost its fifth straight Saturday night, coach Pat Quinn said this game was as important as a Stanley Cup game.
Kaberle finished with a career-high with four points, and Sundin scored his 12th and 13th goals of the season.
“It was a four-point game for us,” Kaberle said.
Ed Belfour played one of his better games, finishing with 30 saves. Fans chanted “Eddie! Eddie!” after some of the 40-year-old goalie’s more impressive saves.
“It’s do or die,” Belfour said.
Toronto was 4-for-11 with the man advantage.
“I don’t know what the other guys felt but I’m sure they were tired,” Montreal’s Alex Kovalev said. “Playing two games in a row and killing penalties is definitely tough.”
Zednik streak toward the net almost untouched before redirecting Radek Bonk’s centering pass past Belfour at 5:07 of the first.
But Kaberle tied it less than 2 minutes later with a one-timer.
Montreal had a two-man advantage and Michael Ryder had an open the side of the net, but Kaberle prevented Ryder from scoring by blocking the puck with his stick.
Belfour also robbed Ryder of a goal with an impressive save.
“Eddie was good. He made some big stops for us early in the game for us,” Quinn said. “He was the difference.”
Montreal received seven straight penalties at one point, including six in row in the second period.
Sundin scored just his second goal in his last 15 games with a one-timer from the boards on the power play at 1:35 of the second.
Toronto couldn’t capitalize again with the man advantage until Wellwood’s one-timer beat goalie Christobal Huet with 3:54 left in the second.
Markov cut it to 3-2 on the power play with a shot with 0.6 seconds left in the second.
But Toronto scored two power-play goals in third. In trying to clear the puck from behind his net, Huet passed it to Allison, who scored into an open net at 6:34.
Sundin made it 5-2 just over a minute later.
Higgins cut it to 5-3 at 11:40 on another power play.
Kaberle assisted on both of Sundin’s goals. … The previous five meetings this season between Toronto and Montreal were decided by one goal.