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Leafs fall to Columbus, now face Capitals in playoffs

21 April, 2017, 20:33 | Author: Alberta Rodriguez

You want home ice and climb up the standings as best you can, just from a gratification standpoint.

The Leafs will play the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs if they pick up at least a point in their season finale against Columbus on Sunday. The Islanders play the New Jersey Devils and the Senators.

Andersen took a Tom Sestito hip to the head two minutes into the second period of an eventual 5-3 win, leaving the Air Canada Centre ice under the care of a team trainer.

The Leafs had an extra bounce to their step early against Columbus, fresh off the clinching victory over Pittsburgh.

Andersen, who had stopped three of four shots, left with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Curtis McElhinney, who stopped 12 of 14 shots.

"It's tough", McElhinney said of Andersen.

The game became tied 2-2 when Jake Gardiner blew a tire in the neutral zone and Josh Andersen sped past him, eventually beating McElhinney on the far side.

He still is treating the game against the Blue Jackets seriously. "I think the last two games, we played a little tight". "It's important for us".

But as we are all aware, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are different.

"(The Blue Jackets) have a back-to-back, too. That's in sharp contrast to a year ago when they coasted over the final month of the season, going 7-5-4 in their final 16 games, and never were able to flip the switch and find their top level when the playoffs began. "It's still a back-to-back so prepare and play hard". He returned for one shift in the second period before exiting the game for good. "It was a springboard for us the rest of the game". "We just have to make sure that doesn't happen again". "You go over and over a foundation of how to play so in the big moments you do what you do, but we didn't do that". "We do intend on resting some guys, but the lineup will be obviously ... you guys will see it tonight". They are holding onto the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are hoping to clinch today.

Babcock said he spent the first two years of his Toronto experience with rarely a peep of interaction among his neighbors, and now people are talking to him "every single second for the last week, so it must be a big deal".

"We have to go back to our working habits and it's not going to be easy, and we have to understand that", Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said. Toronto's weakest position all season has been defence, and losing Zaitsev for even one playoff game would be devastating, but Babcock said he was "not" concerned the rookie wouldn't be ready for Game 1. Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, the Blue Jackets' first-round draft pick in 2015, made his National Hockey League debut Saturday.

The Leafs, meanwhile, will be playing before a fired-up home crowd and know that a point gets them out of Washington's way and into a "Battle of Ontario".

The Tampa Bay Lightning has one game left, but the games they don't control that will be the most nerve-wracking.

None compare to the National Hockey League stage though, especially at this point in the year when the intensity dials up and every little play seems to matter. If we had those injuries, we wouldn't have a sniff.

[On missing the playoffs his first season being a motivational factor] "Your first year [in the NHL] you're trying to figure things out, get established and figure out the guys you're playing against".

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