Kaberle saves the Buds

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

TORONTO -- It was the largest crowd in Maple Leafs history to watch a game at the Air Canada Centre.

And for about 20 minutes late last night, it may have been the quietest.

The record throng of 19,649 figured this one was in the bag when the Buds carried a 4-2 lead into the final five minutes of regulation.

But goals by Sidney Crosby and Ryan Whitney pulled the Pittsburgh Penguins into a 4-4 tie. Whitney's goal was especially bittersweet, since it came with just four seconds remaining in regulation.

Then, as the final horn sounded, the start of overtime was delayed 15 minutes as medical officials attended to an emergency involving a fan who had passed out near the glass after suffering an apparent heart attack.

But the fans found their collective lungs again when Tomas Kaberle ripped a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:05 remaining in overtime, giving the Leafs a dramatic 5-4 victory.

TIGHT RACE

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

Toronto is one point behind the Canadiens and two points behind the Rangers.

Having dropped their previous three meetings with the Pens this season, Leafs coach Paul Maurice had a simple message for his troops -- stay out of the penalty box.

The Pens' power play had shredded the Leafs all season, and it's easy to see why. With the likes of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mark Recchi always sniffing for goals around the opposing net, spending time in the sin bin against this talented group is asking for trouble.

Sure enough, the Leafs once again would find out the hard way.

All wasn't gloom and doom right off the bat, especially when Chad Kilger potted an early goal off a wild scramble in front of Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault. The goal, Kilger's third in three games, gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead just 4:28 into the game.

But any momentum the Leafs had was lost when Bates Battaglia went off for tripping about two minutes later.

Ex-Leaf Gary Roberts deflected a Sergei Gonchar point shot past Andrew Raycroft to tie it 1-1.


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