Leafs' Andersen forced to exit game after hit to head

The home team hadn't won thus far in the season series. They are just too solid from front to back. On Sunday morning, however, Babcock said that while Andersen was not exhibiting concussion symptoms, he would not dress for the game. Marner's goal lifted Toronto to a lead once more, but John Carlson scored to send the game to overtime, where Alex Ovechkin got the game-winner. Even with the loss, the Blackhawks are locked in as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, which means they will play the No. 2 wild-card team. But dwelling on what might have been for Toronto stopped the second the final buzzer hit zero. I think they play. "We're looking forward to playing in the playoffs and we have a good challenge ahead of us", said James van Riemsdyk, who scored both of Toronto's goals. "You step up there, you've got to clear your mind and hit the ball". You just have to play right and we're excited for the challenge. "It should be fun".

The Maple Leafs will travel to Capitol Hill to take on the Washington Capitals (55-19-8) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night.

"A lot of those games (in the past month) were tight", Babcock said. "You want to gain home ice and match up who you play best against". This series won't be easy, but the playoffs are supposed to be hard.

Former Maple Leaf Phil Kessel and Crosby also scored for Pittsburgh (50-20-11).

They accomplished this feat with historic scoring, 238 points in the last two seasons, marking the most points in two straight seasons since Montreal recorded 244 points from 1977-79. "We marvel at what he does on a nightly basis", coach Mike Sullivan said of Crosby (NHL-leading 43 goals), who also had two points (one goal, one assist) in a 4-1 victory over Toronto on November 12.

After Phil Kessel scored the 1-0 goal in the first period, "the kid traded for Kessel" - Kasperi Kapanen - answered with the 3-3 tally in the third, his first career National Hockey League goal (and what a pass by Matt Hunwick!).

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. Roman Polak also left in the second period after suffering what appeared to be a leg injury. Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski was third with 36 points (one first-place vote).

Martin Marincin and Alexey Marchenko are waiting in the wings, but Zaitsev is Toronto's leader in ice time (22:12) and had been taking on top matchups all season with Morgan Rielly and Gardiner. Derick Brassard and Phaneuf were among the veterans rested for the regular-season curtain closer, so Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Kelly and Tom Pyatt were the only Senators to play all 82 games. 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.

I can only tell you that, in sweeping Boston 4-0-0 during the National Hockey League regular season, the Senators were sparked by Kyle Turris (three goals, and another to win a shootout), Mike Hoffman (one goal, three assists) and Dion Phaneuf (four assists), while the best B's against Ottawa were Torey Krug (one goal, three assists), Brad Marchand (one goal, one assist) and David Pastrnak (one goal, one assist). Their possession numbers were superb against the Blue Jackets as well, registering almost 60 per cent and above each. Van Riemsdyk gained control of the puck by batting down Bozak's pass with one hand on his stick as he crossed the blue line. But on goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov in the third period, the Capitals tied the game.

  • Julie Sanders