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game recap

Maple Leafs clinch playoff berth with victory against Islanders

Tavares scores; Toronto will face Bruins in Eastern First Round

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Tavares' first against old club

TOR@NYI: Tavares' first goal against the Islanders

John Tavares receives Mitch Marner's drop pass and buries a wrister from the circle for his first goal against the Islanders

  • 01:03 •

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Monday.

John Tavares scored against his former team for the first time, Calle Rosen scored his first NHL goal and Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for Toronto (46-26-7), which will appear in the playoffs for a third straight season.

The Maple Leafs will play the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference First Round; they trail the Bruins by four points for second place in the Atlantic Division.

 

[WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Islanders highlights]

 

"Anytime you make it official and everything that goes into it from the first day of training camp to this point and even the rest of this week, you're able to take a moment to soak it in," Tavares said. "We get to be a part of it and get that opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. That's what it's all about.

"You work so hard for that opportunity. It's such a long season. It's just nice to make it official and punch your ticket. You never want to take your foot off the gas, regardless of your situation. It's good to get it done as soon as possible."

Video: #ThirstForTheCup: Maple Leafs clinch a playoff spot

Jordan Eberle scored, and Robin Lehner made 36 saves for New York (46-27-7), which remained three points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are two points ahead of the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Give them some credit; they had a lot of desperation in their game," New York coach Barry Trotz said. "We needed more in ours. We had some at the end.

"I thought the first was pretty even. I thought the second we were fine until they got the goal, and they got some momentum there."

Video: TOR@NYI: Rosen snaps home wrister for first NHL goal

Rosen scored his first NHL goal at 2:17 of the second period on a soft wrist shot from the left point that found its way past Lehner to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead.

"You always have the visions before the game how it would be," said Rosen, who was recalled from Toronto of the American Hockey League on Sunday and played his first NHL game this season and fifth of his career. "It was nice for it to happen today."

"It's frustrating because we're playing really well, and they get a lucky goal like that," Lehner said. "It happens once in every 500 pucks or whatever, and unfortunately it happened tonight."

Tavares, who signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018 after nine seasons with the Islanders, scored in his third game against them 3:50 into the third period when he took a drop pass from Mitchell Marner and put a shot from the left circle past Lehner to make it 2-0.

It was Tavares' 46th goal of the season and 87th point, both NHL career highs.

"When you've been through it once, there is a little bit more of a comfort level because you have a better idea to know what to expect," Tavares said of his second trip to the Coliseum following a 6-1 loss here on Feb. 28. "I just tried to focus on playing. Everything else going around me, it's out of my control. It's not what I try to worry about. I just go out there and play my game."

Video: TOR@NYI: Eberle buries Nelson's slick feed for PPG

Eberle ended Andersen's shutout with a power-play goal from the left circle at 14:55 of the third to make it 2-1.

"Jordan's a good player, [but] he's had a little bit of a difficult year finding the back of the net," Trotz said of Eberle, who has five goals in his past five games and is one shy of becoming a seven-time 20-goal scorer. "If he's going to get hot, this is the right time."

New York failed to capitalize on power plays 2:11 apart midway through the second period. Each team had three shots on goal over the four minutes.

 

They said it

"Obviously, the first thing is making the playoffs. We've made the playoffs three years in a row. There's always expectations, but the reality is it's hard to make the playoffs in the National Hockey League. We've got a good group and we're getting better. I think what we've been through this last little bit, even though we've been playing better and better defensively, we haven't been winning every night. I think it's probably good for our group. I think our group worked real hard tonight." -- Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock

"We wanted to come out here and have another strong performance, but they're a good team. They played well tonight. We were right there; we just didn't execute well at times, and it cost us. We're not going to hang our heads too long on this one." -- Islanders left wing Matt Martin

 

Need to know

Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson did not play because of an illness. … Toronto forward Connor Brown had an assist to extend his point streak to three games (two goals, two assists). … The Islanders had not scored on their previous 32 power-play opportunities at Nassau Coliseum prior to Eberle's goal (Jan. 20 against the Anaheim Ducks). … Lehner made 16 saves in the first period.

 

What's next

Maple Leafs: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN4, FS-CR, NHL.TV)

Islanders: At the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, MSG+, NHL.TV)

Video: Maple Leafs defeat Islanders to clinch playoff berth

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