The Toronto Maple Leafs are holding on tight to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, earning points in five of six games, and can solidify their position when they host the Atlantic Division-rival Boston Bruins on Monday. The Maple Leafs lost 2-1 in overtime to Chicago on Saturday but maintained a one-point lead over the New York Islanders for the second wild card.
“A huge point for us,” Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk told the Toronto Sun after the setback. “We’ve been able to rise to the challenge in some of these marquee games. It’s a good sign.” Monday’s contest will be another major showdown with Toronto sitting just three points behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic with one game in hand. Boston saw its four-game winning streak come to an end with a 7-4 loss at Edmonton on Thursday and will play five of their next six contests at home after trying to improve on a 0-3-0 record against the Maple Leafs this season. Brad Marchand has been red hot for the Bruins, posting five goals and four assists in his last three contests, while David Pastrnak is riding a career-best 11-game point streak.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), TSN4, TVA (Toronto)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (38-27-6): Marchand is three goals behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (40) for the league lead and has notched a career-high 79 points - 18 more than his previous best from last season. Pastrnak, who is second on the team in points with 63, has registered six goals and nine assists during his streak - netting five tallies in his last five contests. Patrice Bergeron, who has recorded five assists in his last four games, along with Drew Stafford and Tim Schaller reportedly missed practice Sunday while forwards Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly were recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League.
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (32-23-15): Calder Trophy candidate Auston Matthews snapped a seven-game point drought with his team-leading 32nd goal Saturday and tops Toronto with 56 points. Fellow rookie Mitch Marner (team-high 38 assists) has recorded seven points in his last eight contests to pull within one of Matthews while the 20-year-old William Nylander enters Monday with a seven-game point streak. Frederik Andersen has turned aside 70-of-72 shots over his last two contests and is 3-0-0 with a .929 save percentage in three starts versus Boston in 2016-17.
1. Boston C David Krejci is one away from his seventh 50-point season and has recorded six, including four goals, in the last five games.
2. Toronto D Connor Carrick (upper body) could return to lineup Monday after missing the last 11 contests.
3. The Bruins allowed three power-play goals against Edmonton after going 10-for-10 on the penalty kill in a four-game span.
PREDICTION: Bruins 3, Maple Leafs 2