Columbus at Toronto
When: 6:00 PM
ET, Sunday, April 9, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Toronto Maple Leafs are going to the playoffs for just the second time in 13 years and can improve their standing by earning more points Sunday, when they close out the regular season at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Maple Leafs rallied to beat Pittsburgh 5-3 on Saturday and clinch their postseason spot but need one point to secure third place in the Atlantic Division and play Ottawa in the first round instead of Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington.
“It’s been our goal since the beginning of the year, to make it,” Toronto rookie Auston Matthews told reporters. “We’ve done better each game, each segment, each month. That’s been the goal for everybody.” Matthews became the first Maple Leaf to reach 40 goals since Mats Sundin in 2001-02 with his late empty-net tally Saturday and leads five players that have reached 60 points with 69. The Blue Jackets are locked into third place in the Metropolitan Division and a first-round playoff matchup with Pittsburgh, but they are in the midst of a six-game slide (0-5-1) during which they've scored 11 goals. “I am not going to pick apart what my team is right now because it’s so hard to judge in these type of circumstances,” Columbus coach John Tortorella told reporters. “It’s human nature.”
TV: 6 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Columbus), Sportsnet, TVA (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (49-24-8): Columbus won’t have Zach Werenski (11 goals, 47 points) in the lineup for the finale due to a shoulder injury, but Tortorella told reporters he was confident the rookie defenseman would start the playoffs. Leading scorer Cam Atkinson (34 goals, 61 points) has been part of the reason Columbus' offense has sputtered lately as he has gone six games without a point. Blue-liner Gabriel Carlsson, a 2015 first-round draft pick, made his NHL debut Saturday and posted a minus-3 rating with three hits in 19 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (40-26-15): Kasperi Kapanen recorded his first NHL goal to tie the game 3-3 and fellow rookie Connor Brown deflected home the winner with 2:48 left in regulation. Two more rookies - Mitch Marner and William Nylander - join Matthews in the 60-point club with 61 each while veterans Nazem Kadri (61) and James van Riemsdyk (60) also have contributed. Goaltender Frederik Andersen provided the only negative Saturday as left the game after taking a shot to head, and coach Mike Babcock told reporters, “Ideally, he will start (Sunday).”
1. Columbus C Sam Gagner has notched five assists in his last six games but has not scored a goal in 13 contests.
2. Toronto C Tyler Bozak has recorded points in four straight games and is three assists shy of 200 for his career.
3. The Blue Jackets scored a goal on the power play Saturday after going 0-for-20 over their previous 12 contests.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 1
Stats and Records