OTTAWA (AP)—Nothing has fazed the Toronto Maple Leafs lately. Not a slew of injuries or a less-than-bright postseason outlook.
Kyle Wellwood, Alex Steen, Darcy Tucker, Jiri Tlusty and Matt Stajan all scored for the Maple Leafs, who gave their playoff hopes a boost with a 5-4 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
“We’re showing what keeping the faith can do for a team,” Steen said. “We don’t quit.”
The Leafs have won four straight against the Senators, and the teams will meet once more in the regular season. Toronto is 12th in the Eastern Conference and trails Philadelphia and Boston, tied at the postseason cutoff, by four points.
“This was a big win for us,” Stajan said. “We’re battling for our lives, and with the injuries we have we’re showing what kind of guys we have. We’re not going to give up.”
Giveaways and turnovers cost the Senators, especially in the third period when the Leafs scored two goals in a span of 41 seconds to take the lead.
“Breakdowns, once in a while you take advantage. When you don’t, you lose hockey games,” Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. “The two goals they got is from passes to two of their guys.”
Fifth-place Ottawa is two points behind New Jersey, but only one ahead of the New York Rangers.
Alfredsson opened the scoring 2:56 in when he caught goalie Vesa Toskala out of position.
Toronto tied it on Wellwood’s power-play goal 4:14 into the second and took the lead when Steen was left alone in the slot, beating Gerber low glove side at 12:39.
Ottawa then scored three goals in a span of 2:27, tallying twice on the power play.
Stillman tied it 2-2 when he got two chances at the side of the net. Just 58 seconds later, the Leafs were caught out of position and Lapointe was left alone to beat Toskala.
Heatley made it 4-2 with his 37th goal. The Leafs salvaged the period, however, scoring with 54 seconds remaining when Tucker put in a rebound.
The Leafs rode the momentum into the third and scored twice in a span of 41 seconds to regain the lead.
Ottawa hadn’t lost in regulation this season when leading after two periods.
“It’s frustrating when you get a two-goal lead and blow it,” forward Jason Spezza said. “You’ve got to be able to hold onto a lead going into the stretch drive.”
Poor defensive play by the Senators allowed Tlusty to draw out Gerber and beat him on the backhand. Seconds later, a bad giveaway cost Ottawa when Stajan made it 5-4.
“We know we can play better,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “If we want to win down the stretch and in the playoffs we can’t give up goals like that.”
Ottawa had a power play in the final minutes and pressured to get the tying goal, but Heatley, who fired a shot with seconds left, hit the post just after the whistle.
Ottawa lost Chris Kelly near the 7-minute mark when he injured his left foot during a scrum in front of Gerber.
With his 10th consecutive start, Gerber tied his career high—set when he playing with the Carolina Hurricanes.