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Two teams took the ice Saturday in Toronto, one with nothing to play for, another oozing with desperation. Brian Boyle has racked up 100 playoff games in the National Hockey League, including a pair of visits to the final himself. Or you're a real good seed. He returned for one shift in the second period before exiting the game for good.
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.
Tampa Bay faces Montreal tonight, the only game on the National Hockey League schedule, needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
- Connor Brown scored his 20th goal of the season and the eventual victor less than three minutes later. "I've felt pretty good here and we've got a good chunk of days off here lately so that's definitely a good thing heading down the stretch here". For Morgan Rielly, a fourth-year player who has seen more downs than ups in a Leafs sweater, it was reminiscent of the feeling at Rogers Centre for Jose Bautista's bat-flip in the 2015 ALDS. We have to stay more composed.
Auston Matthews added his 40th goal of the season, into an empty net, at 19:57. "That's definitely a good thing". "We still have business to take care of, but it's a big night for us to clinch".
Andersen, who had stopped three of four shots, left with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who stopped 12 of 14 shots. "And if not, they still get a lot of experience". "It was just important for me to get that low coverage".
Pittsburgh (50-20-11) had already clinched home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the victory.
This again: Holding onto leads is something the Maple Leafs haven't done with almost enough consistency this season.
Given how far they've come from 30th place, the Leafs could probably live with one more day of drama, as long as there's life for them next week.
The upstart Blue Jackets are also getting ready for a postseason series. Tristan Jarry was recalled from the Wilkes-Barre Penguins and will presumably back up Fleury. Squandering an early four-minute power play ended up hurting them as their energy dwindled in the final 25 minutes, and they couldn't find an equalizer. "They're a risky team". I think that's why we're having success. we're so excited, these are must wins for our team.
Alas, the 2-0 lead became 2-1 when Matt Calvert scored, and then it became 2-2 when Josh Anderson scored. "We know how to play ands we know how to win".
The Leafs got on the board early in the second when van Riemsdyk scored the first of his two goals on the night. William Nylander rang a shot off the post.
If you were writing a script about turning the page on a new chapter in Leafs history, it'd involve overcoming those obstacles and winning anyway thanks to three third-period goals, all scored by Leafs rookies. Tyler Bozak has quietly put up a 55 point season.
[On it being a big game for Toronto] "I think you have to be aware of the situation and know you're going to face a desperate team". Brown's late goal saved the club from defeat against a Penguins squad that had Sidney Crosby, Kessel and few other regulars, with Pittsburgh opting to rest a handful of players ahead of the playoffs. Forwards Nick Bonino, Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist got the night off.