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Preview: Maple Leafs at Blue Jackets

Columbus can tie for best record in NHL; Toronto tries to take over third place in Atlantic Division

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (33-23-15) at BLUE JACKETS (47-18-6)

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

 

Maple Leafs team scope

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one point behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division and three points ahead of the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs are 5-1-1 in their past seven games after a 4-2 win against the Bruins on Monday and will continue to rely on their rookies to contribute even with the pressure mounting. "They know the importance of the games and have been a big part of everything this year," defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "Nothing's changed. They're still playing great hockey. As a group, we have to be ready for the next 11 games." Center William Nylander has eight points (two goals, six assists) in an NHL career-high eight-game point streak but doesn't receive as much attention as fellow rookies Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner. "He's had a great season as well," Matthews said. "He's so skilled with the puck, can skate so well and see the ice. When [Nylander] and I are put together, it's fun playing with him." 

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Columbus Blue Jackets have won four straight and are two points behind the Washington Capitals (102 points), and one back of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks, for the top spot in the League standings. Goalie Joonas Korpisalo will start. He made 20 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at the New York Islanders on Saturday and is 6-3-0 with a 2.72 goals-against average. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves in a 4-1 win at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. Left wing Scott Hartnell will be a healthy scratch and be replaced by rookie Lukas Sedlak, who moves from center, on the fourth line, coach John Tortorella said. Tortorella said he has altered the lines because of the emergence of right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand, who has 10 points (six goals, four assists) since his recall from Cleveland of the American Hockey League on Feb. 13. "I'm not giving guys rest," Tortorella said. "Scottie Hartnell wants to play. I need to look at different lineups. It stems from Bjorkstrand coming onto the scene. It changes some different things we can do with our forward lines." 

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander 

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Eric Fehr 

Morgan Rielly -- Roman Polak

Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick -- Nikita Zaitsev

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

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

Injured: None

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Alexander Wennberg -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Brandon Saad -- Sam Gagner -- Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Josh Anderson 

Lukas Sedlak -- William Karlsson -- Matt Calvert 

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Kyle Quincey -- Markus Nutivaara

Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Lauri Korpikoski, Scott Harrington, Scott Hartnell

Injured: Ryan Murray (hand)

 

Status report

Fehr goes in for Soshnikov, who was a little banged up after the game Monday, Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. … Nutivaara replaces Harrington, and Wennberg returns after missing one game because of a sore neck.

 

Who's hot

Bozak has nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past nine games. … Van Riemsdyk had two assists vs. the Bruins. … Jenner scored twice against the Devils. … Gagner has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past nine games. … Werenski has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games. … Bobrovsky is 7-0-0 with a 1.14 goals-against average, .963 save percentage and three shutouts in March.

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