Game 82 carries milestone potential as Maple Leafs close out season against Lightning

Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
10 days ago
Game 82 has finally come, and that means the playoffs are right around the corner for 16 teams, who all have one goal, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, who will meet tonight as they close out their regular season preparing to not face each other in the first round for the first time in three years.
Last night was a meaningless game for the Maple Leafs in the standings. But it was also a good test for them for the playoffs. Their first-round opponent was either going to be Boston or Florida. And with Florida’s convincing win over Toronto and Boston dropping their final two games of the season (accidentally on purpose?), the Maple Leafs are now set to face the Bruins in the first round for the first time since 2019.
The unfortunate part of last night’s loss was Auston Matthews was unable to find the back of the net for his 70th goal of the season, leaving questions about whether he’d be in tonight’s lineup or if the team would sit him and rest him. With Bobby McMann and Max Domi both already ruled out for tonight’s game, it was hard to imagine a lineup that didn’t include Matthews in it unless Sheldon Keefe and company elected to play all three of his healthy scratched defensemen on forward for funsies.
According to Mark Masters, who was at morning skate earlier today, it appears Auston Matthews will get another shot at scoring his 70th goal tonight based on who was skating today.
But it’s not just Matthews who is chasing a historic milestone. His teammate, William Nylander, entered last night with 97 points. He picked up an assist on Toronto’s first goal last night, giving him 98, but hours after the game concluded, the goal was credited to Tavares, meaning Marner and Rielly picked up the assists, taking it away from Nylander, putting him back at 97 with one game to go. Is it impossible for Nylander to record three points tonight and reach the 100-point mark for the first time in his career? No. But it sure seems unlikely.
Although Nylander’s milestone seems unlikely for tonight, the potential of seeing Matthews’ 70th goal isn’t the only milestone between the two teams that could actually happen. Nikita Kucherov, who enters tonight with 99 assists on the season, is one shy of becoming the second player to reach 100 assists this season and the fifth all-time, joining Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, and McDavid.

Pregame details:

Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup:

Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nick Robertson – Pontus Holmberg – Noah Gregor
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves
Morgan Rielly – Ilya Lyubushkin
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren

Tampa Bay Lightning’s lineup:

Anthony Duclair – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos
Michael Eyssimont – Nicolas Paul – Mitchell Chaffee
Tanner Jeannot – Luke Glendening – Conor Sheary
Victor Hedman – Darren Raddysh
Nick Perbix – Erik Cernak
Emil Lilleberg – Matt Dumba

Projected goalies:

Martin Jones (TOR) vs Matt Tomkins (TB)
No goalie has been confirmed for tonight’s game. After Ilya Samsonov got the nod in their last home game on Saturday night against Detroit and Joseph Woll got the nod against Florida last night, it wouldn’t come as a shock if Martin Jones is called upon to be tonight’s starting goalie, allowing Samsonov and Woll to get some rest.


Sportsnet, 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
(Projected lineups from dailyfaceoff.com)

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