Pavel Kubina Lifts Toronto Maple Leafs in Overtime

Agostino Di MariaCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2009

Don't look now Leafs fans, but the team is now trailing the Buffalo Sabres by only seven points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The latest boost came at the expense of the Ottawa Senators as the Maple Leafs prevailed 3-2 in overtime in last night's game at Scotia Bank Place.

Toronto came out strong in the first period, outshooting the Senators 18-8 and grabbing a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Jamal Mayers and Tim Stapleton, who scored his first career National Hockey League goal.

The second period belonged to the Senators, who outplayed the Leafs by a wide margin and tied up the game with goals by Ryan Shannon and Jarkko Ruutu.

The third period saw Daniel Alfredsson score, which many people thought to be the game winner, as he potted a great pass from line-mate Mike Fisher. Pavel Kubina, however, had other arrangements for the night as he slapped home the tying goal on the powerplay late in the period.

Overtime lasted a mere 33 seconds as Kubina once again was the hero as he slapped home his 12th goal of the season to lift the Leafs to their fourth straight victory.

Curtis Joseph was credited with the win and he now has at least one win recorded in the NHL in 19 different calendar years. This was another great milestone for a goaltender with a solid career.

The Leafs win, coupled with losses by Buffalo and Carolina, now places them in actual playoff contention. Let us not get hasty here, however, as the playoffs would still require a miracle in the city of Toronto.

Do not expect the latest streak to change the mind set of general manager Brian Burke as well.

Reported on the CBC Hotstove in last night's second intermission, interest around the NHL has increased for forward Jamal Mayers as well as offers being sent in for defenseman Ian White, who is having a solid season thus far.

More fuel was added to the fire last night as Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson was in attendance at Scotia Bank Place, likely to scout players Filip Kuba, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, and Nik Antropov.

The Jackets had been rumored to be in the market for a big forward and a top four defenseman for weeks.

The players could not have picked a better time to play hard, as the latest streak almost surely indicates an increase in player value heading into the Mar. 4th trade deadline.