TORONTO — Jason Blake scored goals 19 seconds apart in the third period and the Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a two-goal deficit to beat Pittsburgh 6-2 on Saturday night, spoiling defenseman Sergei Gonchar’s return to the Penguins’ lineup.
Nik Antropov, John Mitchell, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Matt Stajan also scored for Toronto. Matt Cooke and Bill Thomas replied for the Penguins, five points behind Buffalo for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Maple Leafs peppered Pittsburgh with 41 shots and pulled ahead for good on Blake’s 20th and 21st goals of the season. He backhanded a rebound behind Marc-Andre Fleury 55 seconds into the third period before spinning and bringing the puck to his forehand to beat the goalie again at 1:14.
Blake gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead with his quick goals before Mitchell extended that advantage at 7:13 after taking a pass in the slot from Nikolai Kulemin.
Ponikarovsky and Stajan added goals to make it a five-goal third period for Toronto. Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien left Fleury in for all of them.
Even with Gonchar — returning after dislocating his right shoulder in the preseason opener — in the lineup, the Penguins saw their margin for error down the stretch reduced. The defending Eastern Conference champions have to finish 16-9 just to reach 91 points — and that total hasn’t been good enough to qualify for the playoffs any year since the lockout.
Notes: AHL callup Boyd Devereaux was a healthy scratch for Toronto
… Ruslan Fedotenko returned to Pittsburgh’s lineup after missing 15 games because of a broken right hand.