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Sport Maple Leafs beat Penguins, clinch 1st playoff spot in 4 years

06:18  09 april  2017
06:18  09 april  2017 Source:   ap.org

Trotz likens young Maple Leafs to Gretzky's Oilers

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are officially headed to the playoffs after a wild third period saw Connor Brown score the game-winner against the Penguins for a

The Toronto Maple Leafs rarely make things easy on their fans, and qualifying for the playoffs was no different as they waited until their second last game

TORONTO (AP) -- Connor Brown broke a tie with 2:48 left and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Saturday night to wrap up their first playoff spot since 2013.

James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Kasperi Kapanen and Auston Matthews also scored for Toronto, and Curtis McElhinney stepped in for an injured Frederik Andersen with 12 saves.

BOX SCORE:  MAPLE LEAFS 5, PENGUINS 3

Toronto will play the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs if the Maple Leafs pick up at least a point in their season finale against Columbus on Sunday.

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Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel scored for Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals on 30 shots.

Tension was evident in the Air Canada Centre crowd early given the stakes for the hometown Leafs.

It was a member of the last Leafs playoff squad in 2013 who opened the scoring, Kessel beating Andersen for his 23rd goal of the season six minutes in.

Before his goal was even announced the Leafs struck back with Kessel's former linemate, van Riemsdyk, evening the score at one. 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. He then danced around Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz and beat Fleury for his 27th goal.

Things turned dicey for the Leafs though two minutes into the second when Andersen was bumped in the head by the hip of Penguins forward Tom Sestito. Clutching his head, Andersen stayed down on the ice in obvious discomfort and after undergoing consultation with a team trainer, left the ice.

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Connor Brown put the Maple Leafs ahead late in regulation as they defeated the Penguins , 5-3, securing a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs .

The Toronto Maple Leafs have clinched a playoff spot for the third consecutive season after "Our group played real hard tonight," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "It’s nice for John Tavares The 25- year -old defenceman, making his season debut after playing in four games in October 2017

Two weeks earlier, in a game against Buffalo, Andersen was bumped in the head by Sabres forward William Carrier and forced to sit out a start with an undisclosed injury.

Sestito drew a penalty for goalie interference, and Bozak put the Leafs ahead with a power-play goal. Setting up the goal, William Nylander set a new team rookie record with his 26th power-play point of the year.

But whatever momentum Toronto gained was dashed when the Penguins scored on a power play of their own, Crosby notching his NHL-leading 44th goal. McElhinney made the first save on Schultz, but couldn't recover in time to stop Crosby, who was set up by Guentzel.

Guentzel got lucky a little while later though, his innocent shot bouncing off a pair of Leafs defensemen before sliding through the pads of McElhinney for the 3-2 lead.

Kapanen pulled the Leafs back even about 10 minutes later with his first NHL goal and point, depositing a nifty pass from Matt Hunwick. Brown then redirected a Gardiner shot to put Toronto in front, Matthews adding his 40th goal of the year into an empty net.

Penguins begin title defense against untested Blue Jackets

  Penguins begin title defense against untested Blue Jackets Forget about past history and playoff experience. The Pittsburgh Penguins insist those things won't matter when the puck drops on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their first-round series against Columbus Blue Jackets. So what if the Penguins have twice as many Stanley Cups (four) as the Blue Jackets have postseason wins (two)? Sure, it looks nice in a trophy case, but those things are designed to celebrate the past.

Eric Gryba scored the game-winning goal as the Oilers beat the Kings, 2-1, to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the first time since 2006.

Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who clinched a playoff spot with a 5-2 win against the Blues.


Johansson's OT goal gives Capitals series win at Toronto .
Marcus Johansson stuffed his second goal of the game past Frederik Andersen at 6:31 of overtime, lifting the Washington Capitals t to a series-winning 2-1 victory ove the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 6 on Sunday night. Johansson pulled Washington even at 1-1 with less than eight minutes to go in the third period after Auston Matthews broke a scoreless tie with his fourth goal of the series for Toronto. It was the fifth overtime game of the series, and the record-setting 18th in the first round of the playoffs.

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