Maple Leafs can't be beat

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Chad Kilger celebrates his second goal of the game against the...

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Chad Kilger celebrates his second goal of the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at the ACC. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

Bryan McCabe won't score many luckier goals.

Or bigger ones, for that matter.

The Maple Leafs defenceman just happened to be in the right place at the right time to give Toronto a 3-2 win over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at the Air Canada Centre.

An errant Kyle Wellwood blast from the wing appeared destined to go wide when it hit McCabe's shoulder and ricocheted into the net past helpless Penguins goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, who surely deserved a better fate.

The goal, at 1:02 of overtime, gave the sizzling Leafs their sixth consecutive victory, a run that includes two overtime wins over Sid the Kid and his teammates in the past week alone.

Truth be told, McCabe, afraid the puck might nail him in the yap, attempted to avoid being hit.

Good thing for the Leafs he was unsuccessful.

"Welly fanned on it and I just tried to get out of the way,"said McCabe, who was charging to the front of the net when the puck plunked him. "I already had one stick in the mouth tonight and I didn't want a puck there, too.

"I was fortunate."

Wellwood blushed when asked about the inaccuracy of his initial shot.

"It was so far off-target, it resembled one of my golf drives," Wellwood said. "I was thinking of giving the assist back because it was so embarrassing."

That, in a nutshell, is the story of the Leafs' winning streak right now.

Even when they resemble The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, they still come out on top.

The run includes two victories over the Penguins in extra time, a shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres and one-goal decisions over the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.

The only true butt-kicking came Saturday at the Continental Airlines Arena when they hammered the Devils 6-3.

Much of that success came with five injured regulars -- Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, Carlo Colaiacovo, Nik Antropov and Alex Steen -- out of the lineup.

Steen returned last night after missing seven games with a thumb injury.

And he ended up winning the battle of rookies -- at least in the final summary -- by outpointing Crosby 2-1, thanks to a pair of third-period assists.

Playing his first regular-season National Hockey League game on Canadian soil, Crosby flashed some magic early on when his nifty behind-the-back pass led to a Sergei Gonchar goal just 5:47 into the game, putting the Penguins up 1-0.

But Steen would have the last laugh.

When a strained rib caused Darcy Tucker to leave the game early in the third period with the Leafs still down by a goal, coach Pat Quinn opted to put Steen in Tucker's spot on a line with Chad Kilger and Mats Sundin.

The move paid instant dividends, with Steen setting up Kilger for a pair of goals to put Toronto up 2-1.

These days, it seems everything is going right -- and right in the net -- for the Maple Leafs.


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