Pacific Division title, playoff seeding at stake on last day

The Maple Leafs have earned an invitation to the dance. And around 9 p.m. ET, we're guaranteed to have clarity on the playoff picture.

"It means everything", Matthews said of making the playoffs in his first National Hockey League season. No points, and it's the Stanley Cup favorite Capitals in round one. "But we've got to rest up and take care of business ourselves".

The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped their regular-season finale 3-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets Sunday night and will now face the Washington Capitals in the opening round of their first post-season since 2013.

Andersen was removed from Saturday's game against Pittsburgh after being hit in the head in the second period by Tom Sestito. He was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference at 2:01.

The most recent game was on April 4, and was a 4-1 drubbing by the Capitals against Curtis McElhinney.

That goal paled in importance to that of fellow rookie Connor Brown, whose 20th of the season Saturday gave the Leafs a late regulation lead over the Penguins.

And when Andersen was with Anaheim, he suffered a concussion last season.

Two weeks earlier, the 27-year-old was hit in similar fashion by Sabres forward William Carrier, Andersen missing the ensuing start with an undisclosed upper body injury.

The Penguins played this one with a diluted lineup. With just two games left in the season, these teams are giving everything possible to get the wins needed to grab the spot. If the Isles tie the Leafs on points and ROWs, they hold the season head-to-head tiebreaker.

"You don't want to sell yourselves short, ever", said James van Riemsdyk, one of five current Leafs who were part of that '13 playoff team. You could always see the potential, but it's nice to see the things coming together this year. "Earlier in the year we showed flashes of it, how we need to play".

Brown got the victor when he tipped a Jake Gardiner shot past Marc-Andre Fleury, with Nazem Kadri screening the goalie.

- The NHL is expected to announce the first-round schedule once all games are completed Sunday night.

"This is a great situation for everyone", Komarov said. "We will talk about that after tonight, after we know what is going on". We did not have any options. "Kappy scored a big goal and we just went for it". And Phil Kessel. And Conor Sheary. "I think it's good experience for our guys to go through it". 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. It was the first of two goals by Brayden point, with Nikita Kucherov answering a Nazem Kadri tying goal and light-scoring Michael Bournival adding insurance when a fortunate bounce came out the other side of Frederik Andersen's net. "I didn't really put any numbers on that".

No, just let's play. But it was the instantaneous contribution of the rookies that made the biggest difference from one season to the next, along with Babcock behind the bench. "You're wired up for everyone, but you want to play games that are high-energy and that mean something".

"Ovi getting 82 games, a full season, I think that's important to players more than maybe the coach or fans or media think it is", Trotz said.

Matthews' play and awareness when he does not have the puck has caught the attention of veterans across the National Hockey League.

"Same thing here in hockey", he said.

"Here, it's tough to get the puck". NY slammed the Hurricanes on Thursday to also get within four of the Leafs and finish up with weekend games against the Devils and Senators. Nylander recorded his 26th power-play point when he assisted on a goal by Tyler Bozak, setting a record.

  • Julie Sanders