Maple Leafs beat Penguins to clinch final playoff spot

Toronto leads the league in first period goals (85), but for the second time in a week they were scoreless after 20 minutes.

"To be able to pull out this one was a pretty good feeling".

A point against the Jackets would mean the Leafs face the Ottawa Senators in the first round and not the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals.

The 27-year-old sat out Sunday's game after exiting a playoff-clinching tilt with Pittsburgh one night earlier following a hit to the head from Penguins forward Tom Sestito.

Sestito was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference at 2:05. Putting the puck in the net is the hardest thing to do in the sport, and it only seems to get more and more difficult every single season.

News broke during the second intermission of Sunday's game, after the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Leafs in regulation, clinching the higher seed.

We'll have a ton of posts over the next few days breaking down the Leafs chances against the Capitals, the postseason as a whole and more, so until then enjoy the sublime feeling of seeing the Leafs in the playoffs. Clutching his head, Andersen stayed down on the ice in obvious discomfort and after undergoing consultation with a team trainer, left the ice.

Babcock offered no details on what exactly transpired though, the Leafs equally secretive two weeks earlier when Andersen was bumped in similar fashion by Sabres forward William Carrier. The Leafs expect their starting netminder and defenceman Nikita Zaitsev to be ready for Game 1, the Russian defender forced to leave Sunday's game with an upper-body ailment. 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.

McElhinney said it was a dream for him to come up big in Andersen's place against the Penguins, though. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Stone earned two points each in the Ottawa Senators 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers. "It was a great opportunity". They're loaded. Again. The Caps have failed to advance beyond the second round since captain Ovechkin debuted in 2005-06 and they collectively know if they don't get it done this spring, there will be significant changes.

Asked about pressure on his young team heading into the playoffs on Sunday morning, Leafs coach Mike Babcock deflected with apparent aim at the Capitals.

"That Pittsburgh-Columbus series to me is going to be one of those where it's going to go a long while and if it's six games, then it's going to feel like eight and a half or nine games", Olczyk said.

"We have put ourselves into the playoffs and that is a pretty drastic jump from past year".

F Connor Brown notched his 20th goal of the season from the left circle, redirecting a shot by Jake Gardiner, at 17:12 to put the Maple Leafs into the lead.

Connor Brown scored the game-winner on a deflection at 17:12 after former Penguin Kasperi Kapanen picked up his first National Hockey League goal at 14:30 courtesy of a no-look pass from Matt Hunwick.

Toronto of those days was built tenuously around veterans like Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, ultimately unravelling in Game 7 of a first-round series against Boston.

  • Rosalie Stanley