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Preview: Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs

Toronto needs one point to finish third in Atlantic; Columbus tries to end six-game slide

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (49-24-8) at MAPLE LEAFS (40-26-15)

6 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, SN, FS-O, NHL.TV

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Columbus Blue Jackets have clinched third place in the Metropolitan Division and will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they are 0-5-1 in their past six games. "I don't think there's any danger. Obviously we lost six in a row, so it is what it is. We have to get back to the way we're capable of playing and that's rolling all four lines and playing with a little bit of arrogance," forward Cam Atkinson said. "I think we kind of got away from that a little bit. It is what it is right now. It's almost human nature. I think we've talked about it many times. I think once we clinched it seems like a lot of guys, obviously myself, kind of took the foot off the gas pedal, which is the worst thing you can do." Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will start. He is 1-1-0 against the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Forward Boone Jenner is focused on finding some positivity heading into the playoffs. "I think we're trying to work through it. Obviously we've got to find a way to work through it and find ourselves again," Jenner said. "It's a little adversity here before the playoffs. We've got to find a way to work through it. It's obviously going to have to take everyone together so I think it should make us stronger."

 

Maple Leafs team scope

The Toronto Maple Leafs need one point to clinch third place in the Atlantic Division and an Eastern Conference First Round series against the Ottawa Senators. The Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, who completed their regular season on Saturday, each have 95 points; however, if the teams remain tied, Boston has a 42-39 edge in regulation-overtime wins (ROW), the first tiebreaker. A regulation loss would drop Toronto to the second wild card from the Eastern Conference and into a series against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals. Defenseman Morgan Rielly said the Toronto is still focused on its final regular-season game despite qualifying for the playoffs by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Saturday. "Not really, to be honest, just because we know we have to come ready to play tonight," Rielly said when asked if qualifying for the playoffs had sunk in. "It's not over yet. We're very happy that we're able to continue playing on in the playoffs, but it's not over yet. We have a game tonight and that's our focus right now." Goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start and Garret Sparks will dress as his backup after being recalled from Toronto of the AHL. Frederik Andersen will not dress, but coach Mike Babcock said he's expected to be ready for Toronto's playoff opener; Andersen left the game against Pittsburgh at 2:01 of the second period after being bumped in the head by Tom Sestito.

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Sam Gagner

Scott Hartnell -- Boone Jenner -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Gabriel Carlsson -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Kyle Quincey -- Markus Nutivaara

Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Lauri Korpikoski

Injured: Ryan Murray (hand), Zach Werenski (upper body), Lukas Sedlak (upper body)

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Kasperi Kapanen

Morgan Rielly -- Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Curtis McElhinney

Garret Sparks

Scratched: Frederik Andersen, Martin Marincin, Alexey Marchenko, Ben Smith, Josh Leivo

Injured: Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Except for Sparks dressing in place of Andersen, the Maple Leafs are not expected to make any changes from their lineup on Saturday.

 

Who's hot

Jenner has three points (two goals, one assist) in his past two games. ... Matthews has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in his past 10 games. Van Riemsdyk has five points (four goals, one assist) in his past six games. Bozak has five points (one goal, four assists) during a four-game point streak.

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