Kubina, Leafs work overtime again to beat Senators
Pavel Kubina scored the tying goal with five minutes left in regulation and added the winner 33 seconds into overtime as the Maple Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in Toronto's sixth consecutive OT game.
After evening the game on a power-play blast with 5:12 to go in the third period, Kubina took Ian White's feed off a rush in overtime and fired it through Senators goalie Brian Elliott for the winner.
Jamal Mayers and Tim Stapleton, who was credited with his first NHL goal, gave Toronto a 2-0 advantage through the first period before Ryan Shannon, Jarkko Ruutu and Daniel Alfredsson scored to help Ottawa rally into the lead early in the third.
Curtis Joseph made 29 saves in just his second appearance since Jan. 8 to help Toronto (25-26-12) to its fourth straight victory.
The Leafs, who were coming off three straight wins over the New York Rangers and Islanders, closed to within seven points of Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot after the Sabres were blanked on Long Island. Pittsburgh and Carolina also stand between Toronto and an unlikely post-season berth.
Dare Toronto dream of playing in the Stanley Cup tournament even as general manager Brian Burke figures to be dealing with an eye toward the future ahead of Wednesday's NHL trade deadline?
"I think everybody wants to go for it," Kubina told CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. "Seven points is a lot but I think the last few weeks we've been playing great hockey.
"You never know. We still have 19 games to go."
Toronto's blue-line was bolstered by the returns of Tomas Kaberle, who had been missing since breaking a bone in his right hand on Jan. 29, and Mike Van Ryn, whose bad leg had kept him out since Feb. 7.
Jason Spezza played the goat with two key miscues for Ottawa.
In the first period, he knocked the puck into his own net to give Stapleton his first official NHL goal. The rookie netted the shootout winner Thursday night in his big-league debut on Long Island, but that doesn't count as an actual goal.
Spezza was also a culprit on Kubina's tying goal, taking the hooking penalty that put the Leafs on the power play.
Elliott made 34 saves but couldn't stop Kubina's shot from squeaking through his pads in OT, sending Ottawa (23-28-10) to its fifth loss in six games. The Senators have no illusions of a 12th consecutive playoff appearance as they are stranded six points behind Toronto.
"He was inconsistent like the rest of us," coach Cory Clouston said of Elliott. "He made a couple of big saves, but if you look back there would be a couple goals he would want back. We're not a good enough team to have one or two bad goals."