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Maple Leafs sense tide finally turning in their favor

by Joe Yerdon

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs head into their final home game of the regular season hoping this won't be the last time they take the ice at Air Canada Centre this season.

The Maple Leafs have won two games in a row and head into their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the Eastern Conference's second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Toronto got a bit of help when the Chicago Blackhawks defeated Columbus 4-3 Friday.

"I was watching it," Kadri said of the Blue Jackets loss to the Blackhawks. "It was a pretty spectacular finish. I did fist pump one or two times. That's just the bounce. We haven't seen any of those. Some of the goals, even, we're scoring, now I think it's catching up with us a little bit and it's starting to favor us a little more."

Toronto faces Winnipeg without starting goalie Jonathan Bernier, who suffered a strained MCL against the Boston Bruins on Thursday and will be out for at least three weeks. That means it's up to last season's starter, James Reimer, to try to get the Maple Leafs in the playoffs. With four games remaining in the schedule, the Maple Leafs are looking for momentum to help out.

"I think it helps when we're starting to actually get some good bounces here with the goal against Calgary when the guy kicked it in his own net and then the [Blackhawks] scoring [Friday] night," Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "I think that might be a turn of the tides a little bit, so hopefully we can just try to take advantage of that and try to play good hockey here. All we can worry about is playing playoff hockey right now."

The Jets were eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday after a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

There was a question whether the Jets might start backup goalie Michael Hutchinson with the Jets out of the playoff picture, but Ondrej Pavelec will start.

"Yes, in part that we've all been through it before," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "Whenever possible you put your best lineup in there. They deserve it. The Toronto Maple Leafs deserve it, and so do the other teams in that fight."

Jets forward Evander Kane stayed on the ice late at the morning skate, meaning he may be a healthy scratch. Maurice said there weren't any lineup changes he was willing to share. Forward Devin Setoguchi would take Kane's place.

Here are the projected lineups for the Jets and Maple Leafs:


Andrew LaddBryan LittleMichael Frolik

Blake WheelerOlli JokinenDustin Byfuglien

Devin SetoguchiEric O'DellMatt Halischuk

Anthony PelusoJim SlaterEric Tangradi

Mark StuartJacob Trouba

Tobias EnstromPaul Postma

Adam PardyZach Redmond

Ondrej Pavelec

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Evander Kane, Ben Chiarot

Injured: James Wright (ankle), Grant Clitsome (back), Chris Thorburn (foot), Mark Scheifele (sprained MCL), Al Montoya (lower body), Keaton Ellerby (lower body), Zach Bogosian (upper body)


James van RiemsdykTyler BozakPhil Kessel

Mason RaymondDave BollandDavid Clarkson

Jerry D'AmigoNazem KadriTroy Bodie

Jay McClementNikolai Kulemin

Dion PhaneufCarl Gunnarsson

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Morgan RiellyTim Gleason

Paul Ranger

James Reimer

Drew MacIntyre

Scratched: Colton Orr, Carter Ashton

Injured: Jonathan Bernier (strained MCL)

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