Maple Leafs beat Penguins to clinch final playoff spot

Paterniano Del Favero
Aprile 21, 2017

Toronto will play the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs if the Maple Leafs pick up at least a point in their season finale against Columbus on Sunday.

Sullivan was well-aware of the playoff implications for the Leafs - as well as the Lightning and Islanders - but said "our priority is first and foremost to the Penguins and certainly we're trying to make the right decisions that we think is best for our hockey team in the short-term and the long-term". Also, the Leafs are now seeded in the Metro, which means if they get past the Capitals they'll have either the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round. But in Thursday's loss to the injury-riddled Lightning, the Leafs had the look of those caught in the headlights of the pressure train. The spotlight will be brighter in the playoffs, but he has responded to every challenge so far.

Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate an empty-net goal by center Auston Matthews against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Toronto on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

A trainer tends to injured Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo after he was hit by Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston on Saturday, April 8, 2017. They secure a playoff spot in Game No. 81 of their season, against No. 81 Phil Kessel. Tormented by bad luck and at times hesitant to shoot during his scoring slump, he finally found satisfaction in front of the people, a lot of them in the media, who questioned his will to win and his conditioning during a six-season span in Toronto.

Just where the Toronto Maple Leafs fit on the spectrum of wishful thinking and taking care of business is unknown. We have lots of kids and we have lots of inexperienced older players as well.

The Jackets are winless in their last four road games and 7-2 in their last nine Sunday games while the Leafs are 4-1 in their last five against the Metro and 7-3 in their last 10 overall.

Goalie Frederik Andersen may be outmatched by Holtby, but he has shown he can steal a game or two for Toronto. Just like that, Toronto was in the lead, exactly where they need to be.

The Leafs finished the 2016-17 regular season with 95 points and settled into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 40-27-15.

The Leafs went 1-1-1 against the Caps in the regular season. Fehr is sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

"You try to do good things and you see what happens", Babcock said.

Babcock said he expected Andersen to practice Monday and be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs against either Washington or Ottawa. This is the group which needs to lead the Maple Leafs and keep them steady enough to pull off an upset.

TORONTO (AP) — There will be no Battle of Ontario in the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs.

A main reason behind the Blue Jackets three goal outburst was the fact Toronto lost two defencemen in the second period and were forced to play with only four defencemen for most of the second and third period.

January 3: Toronto 5, Washington 6, OT: Holtby was pulled after the first period, and the Maple Leafs had a 4-2 lead after a wild 40 minutes.

Capitals: Focus. Although the Capitals can't win the Stanley Cup in this series, they can lose their chance to win it if they get distracted by the big picture or talk of past early-round exits. "They were desperate. They played a simple, forechecking game, clogged up the neutral zone".

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