Bryan McCabe’s power-play goal 2:18 into overtime gave Toronto a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, keeping the Maple Leafs’ playoff hopes alive . The Leafs entered the last six days of the NHL schedule needing to win their three remaining games or risk falling too far behind eighth-place Montreal to steal the eighth and final qualifying spot. The Canadiens beat Boston 2-0 to remain a point ahead of Toronto.
The Leafs finish on the road Thursday against the New York Islanders and at home Saturday against Montreal.
Ian White and Hal Gill also scored for the Leafs, who won their eighth straight home game in front of an Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,547.
Andrew Raycroft’s 37th win tied the franchise record by Ed Belfour in 2002-2003.
Ryan Potulny and Mike York scored for the Flyers, who put up a good fight for a club with the worst record in the NHL and missing four injured regulars.
The Leafs were patient, and their cool-headedness paid off.
They had a 13-5 shots advantage in the first period but Flyers goaltender Martin Biron was unbeatable. A mitt save off Nik Antropov in the 10th minute had the six-foot-six Kazakh shaking his head in disbelief.
Potulny opened the scoring 1:25 into the second period when he beat Raycroft with a wrist shot from the middle of the circle to the goalie’s left. The puck hit the top corner of the net on the short side. Raycroft was on his knees in the crease. He would have had a better chance had he remained on his feet and glided out to the top corner of the crease to cut an angle.
White tied it at 9:53 with a floater of a blue-line shot that fooled a kneeling Biron and found the top of the net.
Gill put Toronto up 2-1 at 14:40 with a slap shot through traffic from beyond the top of the circle to Biron’s right.
The Flyers came on strong in the third, and so did Raycroft, who was at his best during a two-man Philadelphia advantage that last 71 seconds.
Biron stole a goal from Alex Steen with a marvellous mitt save with nine minutes left. Steen hasn’t scored in 12 games since a March 8 goal.
Given it was vital they emerge with two points, the Leafs were cutting this one too close or comfort.
Matt Stajan certainly wasn’t comfortable after taking a Ben Eager shoulder in the nose and leaving blotches of blood on the ice with seven minutes to go. Eager didn’t get his elbow up so wasn’t penalized.
York tied it 2-2 at 15:46 when, following behind a broken play, he lifted in a high 20-foot shot.
In overtime, Biron kicked out his right leg to rob Kyle Wellwood 50 seconds in.
Jeff Carter was assessed a hooking penalty at 1:15 and the Leafs reloaded to try and win it on the power play. Tomas Kaberle and McCabe passed the puck back and forth before McCabe smashed a rocket under the crossbar.
Toronto outshot Philadelphia 33-25.
Notes: Toronto was 1-for-4 and Philadelphia 0-for-4 on power plays. . . . Burlington, Ont., nurse Julie Beattie, Waterloo-region doctors Bill Plaxton and Alex Baron, paramedic Daniel Ball and Elaine Parr, who combined to save the life of 73-year-old spectator John MacLean of Mississauga after he suffered a heart attack during the game Saturday, attended the game as guests of the Leafs. Ex-Toronto star Darryl Sittler presented each with an autographed Leafs sweater during a stoppage in play in the first period. . . . With Carlo Colaiacovo out with a leg injury, Andy Wozniewski was inserted on defence. . . . Jeff O’Neill was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. . . . Potulny, a 22-year-old American called up from the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms, was the leading goal scorer in U.S. college hockey with Minnesota last winter. . . . Former Leafs coach Tom Watt, scouting for the Florida Panthers, was in the press box for his 140th NHL game this season.