“They are big, they are strong, they are fast, they have been beaten a number of times in the playoffs, so they are battle-tested to say the least”, Babcock said, “and they are as hungry as any team in the National Hockey League and playing as good”. Beyond just producing, that trio will need to be tighter defensively in the postseason – they give up the most goals of any regular line combination for Toronto (2.88 goals-against per 60 minutes). Moreover, the Capitals won each of their three games against Boston this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could have clinched a playoff spot Thursday night with a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are still fighting to get in themselves.
How have the Capitals fared against the Maple Leafs and Bruins in the playoffs?
This is the first time the Leafs have clinched a playoff berth in an 82-game season since 2003-04.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ James van Riemsdyk, second left, celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto, on Sunday, April 9, 2017.
Nylander noted that his side had “nothing to lose going into the series” and Babcock observed something similar ahead of the game against Columbus when asked about pressure on his young team.
As has been the case basically all week, the Islanders need to keep winning (in regulation or OT) while the Leafs keep losing in regulation. The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsbu.
“You try to do good things and you see what happens”, Babcock said.
Kessel and Crosby almost combined to tie the game with Fleury off the ice for an extra attacker, but McElhinney thwarted last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy victor with a sprawling left pad save. Matthews slowly made his way to the bench taking deep breaths, with the entire ACC in a similar state. We can’t afford to let Toronto get a power play, and if they do we have to be really strong on the penalty kill. The moments get big and you’ve got to be able to push through it. “When the puck drops that [nervousness] pretty much takes care of itself”.
“[The players] could go home and watch you guys all day long”, he said. There’s nothing on the Leafs on the hunting channel.
It’s the type of play Penguins coach Mike Sullivan has been trying to coax out of Kessel for weeks: Don’t think, just shoot.
The Maple Leafs meanwhile now sit in third place in the Atlantic division and if they can earn a point here they will lock in ahead of the Boston Bruins who are idle on Sunday after their regular season came to an end yesterday with a 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 30-of-32 shots to earn the win for the Jackets, who are set for a first-round matchup against Pittsburgh. It isn’t easy to duplicate game speed in practice, so getting a game or two under the belts of Trevor Daley, who returned on Thursday, Evgeni Malkin and Olli Maatta could be huge.
Point added his second of the night with 5:49 left in the third to seal the win for Tampa.
“I think that would be a big advantage having a game underneath your belt, not hoping right into the fire”, Maatta said. “It’s close to playing, a couple more days”.
The Leafs should win both of their games to avoid the Captials. After beating the Maple Leafs to stay alive, the Lightning have everything to play for in the second half of their back-to-back when they face the Canadiens.
The Islanders, 90 points, play New Jersey tonight and Detroit tomorrow.