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Sundin's goal, 2 assists lead Maple Leafs to 3-2 win over Capitals

WASHINGTON - Mats Sundin likes what he's seeing from the Toronto Maple Leafs lately.

"I think it's been really exciting the last month or so," Sundin said. "Right now, we have a good mix, we have a good chemistry and we're playing a good system that fits us as a team."

And Sundin is a big reason for that. He had a goal and two assists in Toronto's 3-2 victory over Washington on Saturday night as the Maple Leafs improved to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Sundin, who has five goals during that stretch, overshadowed the performance of young Washington star Alex Ovechkin. In his third season, Ovechkin is leading the league in goals scored and broke a seven-game drought to lead the Capitals.

But Sundin, in his 17th season, came out on top.

Two shots by Sundin from the top of the circles led to two goals and gave Toronto the lead in the second period.

With Washington leading 1-0, Sundin took a shot from the top of the left circle that Nikolai Antropov deflected up and over Olie Kolzig for a power-play goal 1:06 into the second period.

Sundin made it 2-1 at the 10:51 mark when he took a short pass from McCabe and his shot from the top of the right circle - nearly a mirror image of the earlier goal - went past Kolzig.

Toronto coach Paul Maurice said Sundin's play has been good all season, but lately he's seemed to get some good luck as well.

"Don't underestimate some confidence," Maurice said. "Even in the great players, when they feel hot, when that stick gets hot, all of a sudden things start to go for them, they start to get some breaks."

Ovechkin opened the scoring with his 49th goal of the season. He zipped a shot past Vesa Toskala from a few feet above the top of the left circle at 15:47 in the first period. The goal ended a career-long drought for Ovechkin.

However, the Capitals said after Ovechkin's goal gave them a first-period lead, they got out the system and were playing too individually against Toronto.

"This is a lesson for us," Ovechkin said. "We know how we have to play, and we started a little bit to change our game in the second period. We know what we have to do, and we just don't do it."

Sundin was again in the middle of the action on Toronto's third goal early in the final period. He picked up a loose puck behind the Capitals' net and passed to Alex Steen.

Steen took the pass in front of the left post and put the puck in the bottom right corner of the net 5:42 into the period.

"He's been playing phenomenal," Steen said of Sundin. "Just the play on my goal, you kind of know that he knows where you are and you're going to get the puck."

Washington defenceman Mike Green said the play was a result of a miscommunication between him and Kolzig that allowed Sundin to pick up the puck.

"I didn't think (Kolzig) was going to go jump for it and I went for it," Green said. "I slipped, and they capitalized."

The Capitals got the final score when Victor Kozlov picked up a rebound on Ovechkin's shot. Kozlov's shot glanced off Toskala's glove before ending up in the net.

Despite that goal, Toskala had a good night in the net by stopping 26 shots in his 18th straight start.

"I like to play a lot," he said. "My body feels good, and my mind is still fresh. Of course, I was a little bit tired in the third period."

Maurice said he is confident Toskala can keep up with the workload.

"I would suggest we keep riding him until he tells me that he's getting a little tired," Maurice said.

Notes: Matt Cooke made his debut for the Capitals. Washington picked up Cooke from Vancouver on Tuesday in a trade for Matt Pettinger ... The win gave Toskala 26 victories this season, tying his career high.


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