With a 4-1 victory over division and provincial rivals the Ottawa Senators, the Toronto Maple Leafs have clinched a playoff berth and are headed to the Stanley cup playoffs for the first time since 2004.
May 4, 2004 the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Two lockouts and seven seasons later, the Toronto Maple Leafs, after much adversity over the past several seasons, have clinch a playoff spot after winning the battle of Ontario 4-1 Saturday night. The win over provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators, has enabled the Leafs to capture the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and qualify for the Stanley cup playoffs for the first time since 2004.
The leafs victory was led by James Van Riemsdyk who scored twice, as well as a goal from Nazeem Kadri in third and Jeffrey Lupul sealed the game with a goal in the final minutes of regulation. The defensive efficiency of Maple Leaf goaltender James Reimer proved to be too much for Senators as Reimer saved 49 shots and held the Senators to only one goal in the contest.
Ottawa’s loss drops the Senators into seventh place as only a few games remain in the lockout shortened 2013 NHL season. The current playoff picture has the Toronto Maple leafs taking on the fourth seeded Boston Bruins in the first round, with the Bruins favoured based on the season record of 3-1 over the Leafs. Despite the upcoming opposition, Toronto fans are simply glad to have the hopes of the Stanley Cup alive once again in the city. The Leafs playoff dry spelt has become the longest drought in the league, adding to another record, the longest absence of a Stanley cup championship. The Leafs last won the championship in 1967, and despite the mediocre seasons that have occurred since, Leaf fans still hold onto the belief that the Stanley Cup is in Toronto’s near future. With the 2013 postseason looming and a recent playoff berth, the possibility for a championship in Toronto is closer than it has been in years.