Lightning wins, waits, watches to see if playoffs are possible

Apr 21, 2017, 23:26
Lightning wins, waits, watches to see if playoffs are possible

Jake Guentzel reclaimed the lead for the Penguins nearly seven minutes into the third period with an unassisted goal that bounced off two Maple Leafs players on its way to the net.

Stuck in a one-for-24 goal funk coming into Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, Phil Kessel scored a very Phil-like goal in the first period, his first tally in 11 games.

And the nerves the Leafs might have been battling in the past week as they tried to nail down a spot, how will those compare to competing in the playoffs?

"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". Moreover, the Capitals won each of their three games against Boston this season. They'll likely be without standout rookie defenseman Zach Werenski.

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Babcock, perhaps not surprisingly, plans to spend lots of time before Thursday's opener in D.C. detailing for his group what exactly is different about playoff hockey. We have to show them who the better team is night in and out. Veterans like JVR, Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Jake Gardiner have been huge for the Leafs this season and the team will need them to play at a high-level if they have any chance at knocking off the Caps. "I thought we started real good, I thought we were on it good and then as soon as something goes wrong". "But the thing when we started playing, when you see the young kids, you see they've got a lot of skills and when we start winning you think we've got a pretty good chance". Toronto is banged up and players like Frederik Andersen, Polak and Zaitsev need time to heal. McElhinney made the first save on Schultz, but couldn't recover in time to stop Crosby, who was set up by Guentzel.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs gear up for the playoffs with one final matchup in their respective regular seasons finales.

Instead, as the second wild card team, they face the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin in the first round.

April 4: Washington 4, Toronto 1: The only disappointing part of the game for the Capitals was allowing a late third-period power-play goal to Marner, which spoiled goaltender Philipp Grubauer's shutout. The organization has been dramatically overhauled since with Brendan Shanahan taking over as president, Mike Babcock as head coach and Lou Lamoriello as general manager.

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"We're so far away from that program, though. It was a springboard for us the rest of the game".

Babcock said after the club's optional skate on Sunday that Andersen has displayed no concussion symptoms and will be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs next week in either Washington or Ottawa.

The Leafs had an extra bounce to their step early against Columbus, fresh off the clinching victory over Pittsburgh. Furthermore, Toronto held a 22-7 edge in five-on-five shot attempts during the first 20 minutes. It looked good for the Leafs through the middle of the game, as a pair of goals by James van Riemsdyk staked Toronto to a 2-0 lead.

The Jackets charged back with three goals in less than seven minutes. Calvert got the first with a weak backhand between McElhinney's pads, Anderson followed up off the rush, Atkinson notching the go-ahead marker shorthanded. Penguins C Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) and D Olli Maatta (hand) are close to returning from their injuries but did not play Saturday.

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