The latest edition of the biggest game of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs will take place on Thursday.
This one is big. Really, really big.
The Leafs need just one more win in their final three games to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
Thursday’s opponent at the Air Canada Centre is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are five points back of Toronto. Also on their heels at five points back are the New York Islanders.
The Lightning and Isles have their work cut out for them, needing to each run the table in their final three games for a chance to squeak into the postseason.
Odds are in the Leafs’ favour, but if Toronto can’t beat Tampa, the pressure will rise.
The Leafs have a pair of difficult opponents to end the regular season, playing Pittsburgh and Columbus in back-to-back days to end the regular season on the weekend.
Toronto is looking to make it into the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and just the second time since 2004. If the season ended today, the Leafs would play Washington in the first round, although Boston and Ottawa are also possible matchups.