The Maple Leafs have decided that playing 60 minutes of hockey is for wimps.
Toronto centre John Mitchell scored his second goal of the game mid-way through the third period last night to draw even with the New Jersey Devils at 2-2.
And then in overtime, New Jersey defenceman Johnny Oduya scored on a rebound with 12 seconds left for the win after Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala made a glove save on a wicked shot by Brian Gionta.
The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Leafs, but extended their consecutive overtime game streak to seven games -- tying the NHL record set by the Edmonton Oilers during the 2003-04 season. The Leafs can break that mark tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals.
"We're going to blow that record right out of the water if I have anything to do with it," coach Ron Wilson said. "Look out Washington, we're going to be playing for overtime!"
Wilson was joking (we think). And while he wasn't thrilled with the fact that his team gave up 52 shots to the Devils at the ACC, he has been impressed with the way his team has played of late.
"That (OT streak) says more about our team and how hard they've competed," Wilson said.
The Leafs, who were stymied by the stingy Devils for the first two periods, managing just 14 shots on New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to send it into extra time.
The Leafs elected to sit forward Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore as both are expected to be traded before today's 3 p.m. trade deadline. Also out of the lineup, for the second straight game because of concussion-like symptoms, was forward Niklas Hagman. Defenceman Jeff Finger returned to action after missing three games with an arm injury. That forced Wilson to juggle his lines for most of the game, the one positive constant being Mitchell playing alongside Jason Blake.
"I kind of had the Rubik's Cube going," the coach said. "I wasn't really sure what our lines would be because I didn't know until later in the afternoon that I wouldn't be playing Moorsey or Nik. So I started with an idea. I didn't like it. And then flipped some things around and then Blakey and Mitchey had a pretty good chemistry, so I kept them together."
Blake did some yeoman's work behind the net to set up Mitchell for the first goal.
The Leafs lost Tomas Kaberle when the defenceman hurt his right hand in the second period -- the same hand he broke earlier in the year
"There's a lot of things going on in my mind right now, but I hope it's not as bad as I think," said Kaberle, who has been subject of numerous trade rumours.
David Clarkson and Patrik Elias also scored for Jersey.