The Washington Capitals, Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins have clinched spots and await matchups. Who the Maple Leafs will play is still up in the air, as a point on Sunday will net us a Battle of Ontario in the first round.
And with the Maple Leafs desperate to secure their first postseason spot since 2013 and just their second since 2006, a Kessel goal conjured old uneasiness in the arena to go with the present uncertainty about playoff chances.
There is a favourite saying in the National Hockey League, one that usually comes out when a team blows a lead in a playoff series and has to play the seventh and deciding game. If the Isles tie the Leafs on points and ROWs, they hold the season head-to-head tiebreaker. To most, that series would be preferable than the alternative, given that Ottawa is suffering through injuries. He sat out the regular-season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets after leaving a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday following a collision with Penguins forward Tom Sestito.
If we come back hungrier than them for a win, I'm sure we'll be fine.
"It's all part of being on a team". Matthews slowly made his way to the bench taking deep breaths, with the entire ACC in a similar state. Auston Matthews is the most notable, setting various franchise records in his first season.
Toronto had a 9-4 edge in shots on goal in the first period.
The Leafs went 1-1-1 against the Caps in the regular season.
The Leafs got on the board early in the middle frame, van Riemsdyk scoring the first of his two goals on the night. It will face the Senators if it gets at least a point against Columbus. Van Riemsdyk finished with six shots on goal for the second straight game. Another big save came on Oliver Bjorkstrand.
Matt Calvert scored at 12:32 when he slipped the puck past McElhinney on a backhand.
Then at 14:11, Point unleashed a heavy wrist shot from the slot that beat Andersen top-shelf for his second goal of the game and 16th of the season late in the third period.
As has been the case basically all week, the Islanders need to keep winning (in regulation or OT) while the Leafs keep losing in regulation.
The Jackets are winless in their last four road games and 7-2 in their last nine Sunday games while the Leafs are 4-1 in their last five against the Metro and 7-3 in their last 10 overall. "But I think he tries to bounce things off you and see how you're feeling". The moments get big and you've got to be able to push through it.
This is what the Maple Leafs are dealing with: a team of destiny. 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.
"I just know he is a hell of a player through watching him (from afar)", the Columbus Blue Jackets coach said. "Toronto included, the youth that is in the league is just fantastic".
At 2:00, leftwinger Michael Bournival scored only his 2nd goal on a great pass from defenseman Andrej Sustr and Hedman, who collected his 55th assist on the year and third tonight. "I think he's really embraced everything here [in Toronto]".
The Leafs coach described the playoff berth as momentous for not only the city and fans but also the young players who live on their phones and "know what everyone thinks and how excited everyone was".
His absence would dampen the Leafs chances considerably, McElhinney a so-so option at best at age 33.
"I was thrilled for him", Tortorella said.