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Preview: Penguins at Maple Leafs

Toronto advances into playoffs with win; goalie Marc-Andre Fleury starts for Pittsburgh

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

PENGUINS (50-19-11) at MAPLE LEAFS (39-26-15)



Penguins team scope

The Pittsburgh Penguins have clinched second place in the Metropolitan Division and will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so coach Mike Sullivan said he intends to rest some players against the Toronto Maple Leafs but would not confirm his lineup. "Our priority is first and foremost to the Penguins and certainly we're trying to make the decisions that we think are right for our hockey team in the short term and the long term," Sullivan said. "Having said that, the lineup we put in will be competitive." Sullivan did say that center Sidney Crosby would play. The Penguins are expecting a desperate effort from the Maple Leafs, who can qualify for the playoffs with a win. "You just have to be aware of the situation, know that you are going to face a desperate team," Crosby said. "We've been in this situation here for the last month or so, we've been playing teams that have been fighting for points and you can tell with the way they play and their desperation level. I think we're motivated just making sure we play the right way going into the playoffs but we have to expect a pretty good team tonight." Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will start.


Maple Leafs team scope

The Maple Leafs can advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2013 with a victory of any kind against the Penguins. "I think it's just excitement. Everyone is focused and everyone is excited," forward Tyler Bozak said. "I think the key is we just have to stay loose and do what we've done all year to get us to the point we're at. We're playing a good team and it's not going to be easy, but we should be excited for the challenge." Toronto had opportunities to clinch on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals and Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning but lost 4-1 in each game. "We're in power. We're able to help our own case out," defenseman Connor Carrick said. "You don't want to rely on help to get in the playoffs. Nobody's going to help you once you get there anyways so you might as well be used to it. It's a huge game tonight." Goaltender Frederik Andersen will get the start. He is 6-1-1 in his past nine starts. Center Auston Matthews has 39 goals; he's trying to become the first Maple Leafs rookie, and the 15th in NHL history, to score 40.

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Phil Kessel

Scott Wilson -- Kevin Porter -- Tom Sestito

Dominik Simon -- Carter Rowney -- Josh Archibald

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Cameron Gaunce -- Trevor Daley

Mark Streit -- Ron Hainsey

Marc-Andre Fleury

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Matt Murray, Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino, Patric Hornqvist, Chad Ruhwedel, Brian Dumoulin

Injured: Carl Hagelin (lower body), Chris Kunitz (lower body), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (neck), Evgeni Malkin (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

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

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

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


Status report

Maatta and Malkin took part in the morning skate, but Sullivan said they will not play. Porter and Jarry were recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on Saturday. ... Kadri did not skate, but Babcock confirmed he will play.


Who's hot

Guentzel has a goal in each of his past four games. Crosby has six points (one goal, five assists) in his past four games. … Matthews has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in his past 11 games. Kadri has six points (two goals, four assists) in his past six games. Bozak has an assist in each of his past three games.

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