Before he signed a seven-year deal with the Maple Leafs to fulfill what he called a childhood dream, Tavares told the Islanders he wanted to remain with them. If both they and the Leafs have nothing to play for, the game will be a dud!
"It's exciting", said Hamilton, who also added an empty netter.
Jordan Staal also scored and Petr Mrazek stopped 23 shots for Carolina (44-29-7), which came in having lost three of its last four in regulation as the franchise looks to make the post-season for the first time since 2009 - now the NHL's longest streak of playoff futility. Blue-liner Jake Muzzin (illness), who also sat out Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Carolina, and Nazem Kadri (maintenance) didn't dress for Toronto. The Canes still have a home game against the devils and a road game against the Flyers left in their schedule.
"It's just nice to help contribute to a win that got us officially in the playoffs", Tavares said.
Toronto home games have been high-scoring, but I see this one going the other way.
Tavares netted his 46th goal of the season with a rocket one-timer from the left face-off circle. Garret Sparks made 32 saves. Tavares was able to get on the board in the third period of the Maple Leafs' 2-1 win over the Islanders, providing what ultimately proved to be the game-winning goal for Toronto.
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Only Toronto is grumbling about the format because the Leafs are going to meet the Boston Bruins in the opening round, causing terrible flashbacks to 2013 and 2018, when Boston overcame seventh-game deficits to eliminate Toronto.
"The bottom line is what we tried to do, because we believe in Sparky, is give him every opportunity", Mike Babcock said, explaining the decision. "We just have to be at a better level than we were to start". NY is fourth in the conference and Toronto is fifth in conference play.
Ryan Poehling notched a hat trick and then added the shootout victor in his National Hockey League debut as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in the season finale for both teams on Saturday. The Maple Leafs' offensive personnel seem to be firing on all cylinders, as they have combined for 18 goals in their past five games (three of which have been losses for Toronto). Kasperi Kapanen scored his 20th to give the Leafs a 5-4 lead midway through the third period.
Poehling scored his third goal of the game on a wrist shot from the slot to tie it at 5-5 with 2:31 left in the third period.
"People are scoring on them so we've got to clean some things up".