New dad Kubina almost delivers game-winner

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

BOSTON -- This was going to be a moment Pavel Kubina would cherish for the rest of his career.

As he crept in to the faceoff circle with his Maple Leafs mired in a 1-1 tie with the Boston Bruins last night, the Czech defenceman ripped a high shot that seemed destined for the top corner.

This would be his first goal as a Maple Leaf.

This would be the perfect way to mark his return to the lineup after missing five weeks with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

All the puck had to do was find the back of the net.

Instead of potting the winner with less than two minutes remaining, a helpless Kubina could only watch as Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas got enough of his shoulder on the shot to deflect the puck over the net and preserve the deadlock.

So much for the storybook ending.

Minutes later, Patrice Bergeron's overtime goal gave the hosts the 2-1 victory.

"I was really hoping it would go in," said Kubina, who logged 17:17 of ice time and was on the ice for Bergeron's winner. "I shot high but (Thomas) made a great save. I tried my best but five weeks is five weeks.

"It would have been nice but I didn't score so we don't have to talk about it. Maybe (tomorrow) against New Jersey."

He admitted having rust in the first period but "felt stronger" as the game went on.

It has been a whirlwind week for Kubina, who injured the knee Oct. 9 versus the Florida Panthers.

Kubina planned to play a week ago against the Bruins. But when he walked into the TD Banknorth Garden that morning, he received a phone call informing him his girlfriend was prepared to give birth in the Czech Republic.

Kubina immediately chartered a plane home and arrived just after the couple's daughter Tereza was born.

Seven days later, Kubina was back in North America with his teammates preparing to make his return -- again.

"When we got to the rink today, I couldn't help thinking that I was here last week waiting to play when I got the call," he said. "Last week it was about the same time in the morning. So this time I turned my cell phone off. I wanted to play."

Had he scored last night, the puck was going to be a souvenir for Tereza. Now they'll both have to wait for another day.


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