Tom Sestito

Video: Leafs goalie Andersen gets physical, drops Connolly with a hit

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It was only a few days ago that Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen left a critical regular season game after a collision involving Tom Sestito.

Andersen was hurt in a must-win game and didn’t play the next day, either.

Fast forward to Thursday’s Game 1 between the Leafs and Capitals, and there was Andersen deciding it was time to apparently get physical. He knocked over Washington forward Brett Connolly as he went speeding into the zone in on the forecheck.

It worked out well for the Leafs, who transitioned the puck up ice. It may have also provided some anxious thoughts for Toronto’s fans, too, given Andersen was hurt just last weekend.

Andersen’s been busy, too, stopping 36 of 38 shots through regulation as this game goes to overtime. Justin Williams, Mr. Game 7, is getting a head start with a pair of goals so far in the opener.

More injury concerns for the Maple Leafs? (Updated)

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Last night, the concern was for goalie Frederik Andersen.

He was knocked out of Saturday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Penguins after a collision with Tom Sestito.

Today, there were more injury worries for the Toronto Maple Leafs after a pair of defensemen exited Sunday’s game versus Columbus.

Nikita Zaitsev took a hard hit along the boards from Nick Foligno at the end of the first period, and slowly made his way back to the bench.

He came out for the second period and played one shift before leaving again for the dressing room.

Update: After initially calling it a lower-body injury, the Leafs changed that to an upper-body injury, while still maintaining that Zaitsev will not return.

Fellow defender Roman Polak also left for the dressing room late in the second period, reducing the Maple Leafs to four defensemen, with one period remaining to secure third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Leafs added that Polak would return to the game. He has since re-joined his teammates at the bench.

The Maple Leafs need only a single point today to earn third in the division and a first-round playoff match-up with the Ottawa Senators. Lose in regulation, and the Maple Leafs face Washington in the opening round.

Columbus had a 3-2 lead going into the third period.

Frederik Andersen will not play tonight, Maple Leafs recall Garret Sparks

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The Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Sunday morning that the team has recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.

Frederik Andersen, the Maple Leafs’ regular starter, was injured on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins following a collision with Tom Sestito. He remained down on the ice for a few moments before eventually leaving the game. He was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney who ended up playing a massive role in the Maple Leafs’ win, making a last-minute sprawling save on Sidney Crosby to help preserve the win and clinch a playoff spot for his team.

After the game coach Mike Babcock said he had no update on Andersen’s status, but that “ideally” he would start Sunday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. But on Sunday morning Babcock announced that even though Andersen was not experiencing any concussion symptoms, he will not dress for the game.

Babcock added that he expects Andersen to practice tomorrow and be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs.

Here is the play that injured Andersen.

It’s not like this is a throw away game for the Maple Leafs just because they have their playoff spot clinched. Seeding is still at stake and a win over the Blue Jackets would put them into the third spot in the Atlantic Division and give them an opening round draw against the Ottawa Senators. A loss pushes them into the second wild card spot and a meeting with the Washington Capitals.

Sparks appeared in 17 games for the Maple Leafs a year ago, posting a .893 save percentage. He has not appeared in a game for the team this season.

Babcock: No update on Frederik Andersen, but ‘ideally he’ll start tomorrow’

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There was no shortage of drama between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

The Maple Leafs came back to win, clinching a playoff berth and officially eliminating Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders from contention.

However, there is concern for the status of Toronto’s starting goalie Frederik Andersen, who left the game early in the second period after a collision with Tom Sestito in front of the crease and didn’t return.

In his first season with the Maple Leafs, Andersen has been solid with 33 wins, four shut outs and a .918 save percentage in 3,800 minutes.

Mike Babcock didn’t have an update on Andersen after the game, saying only that, “Ideally he’ll start” in the team’s regular season finale against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

While the Maple Leafs have locked up a playoff position, tomorrow’s game is still important because it will determine which team they face in the opening round. They’re currently third in the Atlantic with 95 points. The Boston Bruins have the same point total, but their regular season is over.

A single point for the Maple Leafs on Sunday would ensure they remain third in the division and would pit them against the Ottawa Senators.

However, a regulation loss to the Blue Jackets would mean the Maple Leafs fall into the second wild card spot, per the Toronto Star. That would put them up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, who have won nine of their last 10 games and lead the league with 118 points.

Curtis McElhinney took over from Andersen and made some huge saves — none bigger than a left-pad stop on Sidney Crosby in the final minute to preserve the win. His performance didn’t go unnoticed.

“In a big game, that’s important to our players and our team, but to our city, as well,” said the coach.

Maple Leafs win a thriller over Penguins, clinch last playoff spot

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Needing a win to clinch a playoff spot, the Toronto Maple Leafs prevailed in perhaps one of the craziest and dramatic games of this NHL season.

They’re off to the Stanley Cup tournament, following a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They secure a playoff spot in Game No. 81 of their season, against No. 81 Phil Kessel. Coincidence? Yes.

But let’s take it from the top:

— Kessel, facing his old team, opened the scoring to quiet the crowd at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs answered right back 29 seconds later on a goal from James van Riemsdyk.

— Toronto’s starting goalie Frederik Andersen left the game in the second period and didn’t return after Tom Sestito cut in front of the net and caught Andersen in the head with his hip. Curtis McElhinney came off the bench to replace Andersen — in the biggest game of the season.

Jake Guentzel gave the Penguins the lead early in the third period. The puck deflected off two Toronto players, including Jake Gardiner in front, to get through McElhinney.

— With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, the Maple Leafs tied the game on Kasperi Kapanen‘s first career NHL goal. Perfect timing.

Connor Brown scored his 20th goal of the season and the eventual winner less than three minutes later. Just like that, Toronto was in the lead, exactly where they need to be.

— McElhinney made a potential season-saving stop against Crosby, flashing the left pad on a one-timer attempt from the league’s leading goal scorer with 48 seconds left. Crosby had another shot from almost the identical spot on the ice with 10 seconds left, but his attempt was blocked.

Auston Matthews then picked up the puck off that blocked Crosby shot and fired it into the open Penguins net to secure the win. That’s goal No. 40 of his impressive rookie season. He’s the first player since Alex Ovechkin to hit that mark in his debut season. That gave the youthful Maple Leafs three goals in the final 5:30 of the third period. Crazy.

And now the Maple Leafs await word on the status of Andersen. There was no update during the game.