Penguins @ Toronto Maple Leafs 3-5 - Saturday, April 08, 2017
The Toronto Maple Leafs clinched their second Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2004 with a 5-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Air Canada Centre.
Connor Brown deflected a shot from Jake Gardiner over the glove of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with 2:48 left in the third period to give Toronto a 4-3 lead. Kapanen scored his first NHL goal at 14:30 to tie it 3-3. Kapanen, playing his 16th NHL game, was acquired from the Penguins in the trade involving Phil Kessel on July 1, 2015. Auston Matthews scored his 40th goal of the season, into an empty net with four seconds left, to make it 5-3. Toronto goalie Curtis McElhinney made 12 saves, including one in the final minute on Sidney Crosby, after replacing Frederik Andersen at 2:01 of the second period. Andersen was bumped in the head by Penguins forward Tom Sestito and left the game. Toronto (40-26-15) last made the playoffs in the shortened 2012-13 season. Pittsburgh took a 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the first period when Kessel ended a 10-game goal drought by beating Andersen with a wrist shot to the blocker side. It was Kessel's first point against Toronto for Pittsburgh. James van Riemsdyk scored 29 seconds later to tie it 1-1. Tyler Bozak scored a tap-in after taking a cross-ice pass from William Nylander at 3:30 of the second period to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. Pittsburgh (50-20-11) responded on the power play at 7:55 when Crosby scored his NHL-leading 44th goal of the season to tie it 2-2. Jake Guentzel scored at 6:51 of the third period to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead. His shot went off Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner's skate past McElhinney. Toronto is tied with the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game remaining. The Maple Leafs' win completed the Eastern Conference playoff field and eliminated the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning from contention. If Toronto gets at least one point against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, it will play the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference First Round. If Toronto loses in regulation, it will play the Washington Capitals. Pittsburgh will play Columbus in the first round. The playoffs begin Wednesday; the schedule will be announced Sunday.
* Maple Leafs defenseman Matt Hunwick pinched to keep the puck in and shot it around the boards. Gardiner controlled the puck at the left point and took a wrist shot that was deflected by Brown at the top of the left faceoff circle for his 20th goal of the season.
"Obviously they needed the game a lot more than we did, so they came out hard and they got a couple of good breaks. It is what it is." Phil Kessel said.
"I'm proud of the guys, I'm excited for the guys, they've done a real good job. I told the coaches at the start of the year [that] if we got in, it was going to be tomorrow in game 82. So we got in one game ahead of schedule, but to be honest with you, I didn't know the kids could be this good." Mike Babcock said.
"Obviously it was something special. Can't be a better time to score than to tie it up against your old club. It feels pretty good." Kapanen said.
Magnus Hellberg made 22 saves in his first career NHL start to help the New York Rangers close out their regular-season schedule with a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers (48-28-6), who ended a two-game losing streak, open the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round. Games 1 and 2 will be at Bell Centre. It was Hellberg's fifth career game and second this season; he made four saves in relief of Henrik Lundqvist in a 7-6 loss against the Dallas Stars on Jan 17. Jimmy Vesey scored the winning goal at 7:23 of the third period. It was Vesey's 16th goal of the season and second since Feb. 19.
New York also got goals from Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, who missed the previous four games because of an undisclosed injury. In addition, the Rangers had Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Nick Holden in the lineup. They each missed the previous two games. Jesper Fast missed his third straight game. Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider and Brendan Smith were healthy scratches. Lundqvist was the backup to Hellberg, who was recalled Sunday and started because Antti Raanta was held out with a knee injury after getting hit by a shot in practice Friday. Rangers coach Alagn Vigneault said Raanta is day to day but should be available to backup Lundqvist in Game 1. The Penguins (50-21-11), who open the playoffs against the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena, lost their second straight game, but rested nine healthy regulars, including captain Sidney Crosby. Conor Sheary, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Matt Cullen, Ian Cole, Trevor Daley, Justin Schultz and Matt Murray were also healthy scratches. All are expected to play in Game 1. Evgeni Malkin missed his 13th straight game with an upper-body injury, but coach Mike Sullivan said prior to the game that the Penguins have been encouraged by his progress and he's on track to play when the playoffs begin. Nick Bonino and Carter Rowney scored. Tristan Jarry made 22 saves in his NHL debut. Rowney scored at 13:38 of the second period to tie the game at 2-2. The Rangers had a 2-1 lead after the first period on goals by McDonagh and Stepan separated by 4:37. Bonino opened the scoring at 9:16 of the first period.
"I think definitely the last few weeks we've found another level as far as our desperation and the details. You're always looking to find that as you get closer. I think we feel confident and comfortable with that. I still think even with that there's a point in the playoffs where you have to raise your game and elevate it, get better with each game, and we'll have to do that here right off the start. But with all the injuries we've had and finding ways to get through that I think we've done a pretty good job and put ourselves in the right frame of mind and the right spot going into the playoffs." Sidney Crosby said.
"I thought [Jarry] looked really good in there. He's got a calm demeanor about him. He looked very composed. He made some big saves for us." Sullivan said.