Maple Leafs clinch first playoff berth since 2013 vs. Penguins

Nazem Kadri is one of the most underrated centers and one of the most effective agitators in the National Hockey League.

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. He couldn't stop Bournival in the opening minutes of the third though, with the fourth liner tapping in Andrej Sustr's shot from behind the goal for a 3-1 lead.

Connor Brown's game-winning goal in the third period, deflecting the puck from a Jake Gardiner shot from the point, was reminiscent of Nikolai Borschevky's Game 7 series-winning goal against the Detroit Red Wings in 1992/93.

The Leafs drew the Capitals after losing 3-2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday night, and gone was a chance to rekindle the Battle of Ontario with the Ottawa Senators. Beyond just producing, that trio will need to be tighter defensively in the postseason - they give up the most goals of any regular line combination for Toronto (2.88 goals-against per 60 minutes).

"You know what, I am just excited we are in the playoffs and get a chance to play for the Stanley Cup", the Maple Leafs forward said when asked about the individual milestone.

There's Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie to tangle with up front, Kevin Shattenkirk and John Carlson to cause problems on a deep back-end and Braden Holtby, the reigning Vezina trophy victor, to beat between the pipes.

The Maple Leafs with a lineup filled with talented rookies, are ahead of schedule by making the playoffs this season. As the second wild-card team, the Leafs would face the Presidents' Trophy winners, the first-place overall Washington Capitals, hardly an appetizing prospect.

"What I've learned over time, and I've been in the playoffs many times, is be careful what you wish for", Babcock said. "That's when it's a totally different program though". We're not that far behind however as we sit fifth with a power play percentage of 22.9%. Everyone gets to take a deep breath but there is lots of work to do.

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Asked on Sunday if Andersen had any concussion symptoms, Babcock said: "No symptoms".

The Dane has a history of head injuries though, including one from all indications late last month which caused him to miss a start.

The Leafs claimed McElhinney off waivers from Columbus on January 10.

They already got a taste of the level of excitement they should expect in the coming week or two, with a super-charged atmosphere at ACC for Saturday's playoff-clinching win over Pittsburgh. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 30 shots for the Jackets, who are set for a first-round matchup against Pittsburgh.

"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. That's goal No. 40 of his impressive rookie season.

Before his goal was even announced the Leafs struck back with Kessel's former linemate, van Riemsdyk, evening the score at one. He then danced around Penguins defenceman Justin Schultz and beat Fleury for his 27th goal this year. He added his second goal and 28th this season during a 2-on-1 rush with Mitch Marner. Calvert got the first with a weak backhand between McElhinney's pads, Anderson followed up off the rush and Atkinson got the go-ahead marker short-handed.

The Lightning when leading after two periods are an outstanding 24-3-1, while the Leafs when trailing after two periods are miserable 3-20-3. Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, and Jake Gardiner have all logged exactly one playoff series in the National Hockey League - that infamous seven-game affair against Boston in 2013.

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