Leafs recall Garret Sparks; Andersen's status in question for Sunday finale

Vincent De Villiers
Abril 19, 2017

Babcock said ideally he would start in the season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but on Sunday the club summoned Garret Sparks from the AHL Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis and McElhinney will get the start against his former club.

The 19-year-old plays his first playoff game for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Washington later this week.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (31) gets helped off the ice after getting hit during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto on Saturday, April 8, 2017. Unfortunately for the Leafs, they lost 4-1 and the Lightning stayed alive.

It was Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and the emergence of a historic rookie class that truly catapulted the Leafs from last season's tiresome misery into the post-season. Another handful, including Jake Gardiner, Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak have just a single playoff series under their belts, that one coming during the Leafs last playoff appearance in 2013.

But he has done it, and his team has responded and will in the playoffs, ahead of anyone's predictions to bring the Stanley Cup to Toronto in the process. "I know we're one of the bigger teams in the league and [the Maple Leafs] try and do a lot of damage in the playoffs".

"I am sure they're going to be ready to play", Columbus coach John Tortorella said of his team.

You knew it wasn't going to be easy, right?

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"We just need to play our game, our style of hockey".

Bozak gave Toronto a 2-1 lead at 3:30 while Sestito was serving a goaltender-interference minor after he knocked Andersen to the ice. It also means the Boston Bruins travel to Ottawa to open against the Senators.

"We made it way harder than we should", Babcock said of Thursday's effort, as both injury-mauled Tampa and the New York Islanders closed to within three points for what's now the last undecided playoff spot in the NHL's two conferences. "What happens, you have nerves when you win the Presidents' Trophy and you're playing a real good team in the first round". That's when it's a totally different program. "The closer we get, the bigger chance we have, so you kind of start thinking, 'Maybe, we've got a chance to get in here'". Toronto was outshot 40-20 that night at TD Garden, ultimately losing the series in seven games. On Sunday morning, however, Babcock said that while Andersen was not exhibiting concussion symptoms, he would not dress for the game. Furthermore, Toronto held a 22-7 edge in five-on-five shot attempts during the first 20 minutes.

Kucherov put the Lightning back in front about two minutes later, wheeling into the slot and then whipping his 39th goal past Andersen. In the two losses this week, only Mitch Marner has a goal, a late power-play strike on Tuesday against the Capitals.

I can only tell you that, in sweeping Boston 4-0-0 during the regular season, the Senators were sparked by Turris (three goals, and another to win a shootout), Mike Hoffman (one goal, three assists) and Dion Phaneuf (four assists), while the best B's against Ottawa were Torey Krug (one goal, three assists), Brad Marchand (one goal, one assist) and David Pastrnak (one goal, one assist). Calvert got the first with a weak backhand between McElhinney's pads, Anderson followed up off the rush and Atkinson got the go-ahead marker short-handed. He went immediately to the dressing room, returned for one shift in the second and then exited for good with an upper-body injury. Auston Matthews is the most notable, setting various franchise records in his first season. Defenseman Gabriel Carlsson, the Blue Jackets' first-round draft pick in 2015, made his National Hockey League debut Saturday.

Even with the loss, the Leafs managed to finish their season on an 11-5-1 run to charge into the playoffs.

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