Deja vu? No can do!

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

An exasperated Tomas Kaberle rolled his eyes.

And not because his marbles had been scrambled again.

Kaberle just could not believe his Maple Leafs had blown a 4-1 lead for the second time in eight days.

On March 23, in Kaberle's first game back from a concussion, the Buffalo Sabres scored four times in the third period to hand the Leafs a gut-wrenching 5-4 loss.

Last night Kaberle was fearful history would repeat itself.

What was this, some kind of early April Fools joke?

After holding a 4-1 lead late in the second period, Toronto surrendered goals to Maxime Talbot, Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney -- the last one coming with four seconds left in regulation -- to push the game into overtime.

The start of the extra session was then delayed for at least 10 minutes while a passed-out fan near the glass was resuscitated.

Once the puck was dropped, however, it was Kaberle to the rescue.

With 1:05 left in overtime, Kaberle drilled a shot past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Leafs a 5-4 win in front of a throng of 19,649, the largest crowd to see a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre.

Just how big was the winner?

"It could be the difference between us making the playoffs or not," said Kaberle, easily the game's top performer with two goals and an assist.

One look at the standings underscores just how important Kaberle's tally was.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens -- the three teams the Leafs are chasing for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference -- all won last night, making the Leafs-Rangers tilt tonight in New York even more vital.

The Leafs remain a point behind the eighth-place Habs. More and more, it seems the game between the Habs and Leafs at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday might be the determining factor in who's in and who's out.

Kaberle doesn't want to think that far ahead. There is still too much hockey to play between now and then.

"We knew going into the overtime that we needed that extra point," he said. "We had a bit of a wait (while the fan was being attended to) but things happen. We would have waited one hour if that's what it took.

"It was tough for a while there. We didn't get the puck deep in the third period and they took advantage. Fortunately we came out with the two points."

It may have been a roller-coaster ride last night but it sure beats sitting on the sidelines with a concussion.

"It's exciting to be back," Kaberle said. "The hardest thing was watching the guys play and not being out there. At least now I'm contributing and helping us in this playoff race."

Chad Kilger, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Bryan McCabe also scored for Toronto, while former Leaf Gary Roberts had the other Pittsburgh goal.

The Leafs, who were mired with an ordinary .500 record at home for much of the season, have recorded a seven-game home winning streak.

If you think that's a big change, consider that goaltender Andrew Raycroft, booed by the home fans on a number of occasions this season, was given a standing ovation for his spectacular glove save on flashy Pens rookie Jordan Staal at 3:42 of the third period.

"Has it ever happened before?" Raycroft asked of the crowd's warm reception toward him.

Should he lead his team into the post-season, there will be more of those for Raycroft, who is just one win from tying Ed Belfour's single-season franchise record of 37.

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REPORT CARD

B Forwards: Showed some nice jump, especially in the first half of the game when the Leafs chased Jocelyn Thibault from the net.

C Defence: Had trouble containing speedy Pens at times, but did get goals from blueliners Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle.

C+ Goaltending: Andrew Raycroft seemed to be finding his game just at the right time for the Maple Leafs to make a late-season push before being beaten twice in the third period.


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