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From the Branches: Bracing ourselves for Game 3

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Morning, PPP! It's the Monday after a holiday weekend, but who cares about that, because the Maple Leafs have a home playoff game tonight. Fresh off a win in 2OT that gave us all hope (dangerous, dangerous hope), the Leafs will play the Capitals in Toronto this evening.

Hopefully, Gardiner and Rielly spent Easter Sunday recovering from 40 minutes of ice time apiece. We might even have Nikita Zaitsev back, depending on his condition. Will home ice advantage help the Matthews line convert some of those great chances they've been getting? Will Kasperi Kapanen be our hero two games in a row? Will any of us pass out from stress before the first intermission? These questions, and more, will be answered tonight.

Maple Leafs News

Leafs to get relief with Zaitsev's possible return for Game 3 - NHL on CBC Sports - Hockey news, opinion, scores, stats, standings
Relief is on the way for a Toronto blue line that lost Roman Polak due to injury and was quite taxed against the high-flying Capitals. Nikita Zaitsev is a good bet to make his series debut after sitting out the first two games with a suspected concussion.

Mirtle: How Kasperi Kapanen became the Maple Leafs’ unlikely playoff overtime hero – The Athletic
WASHINGTON – As the game stretched past one overtime and deep into a second, the Maple Leafs' fourth line largely watched the drama unfold.

Maple Leafs fans go crazy for 'Dart Guy' -

Kasperi Kapanen may have scored the double OT winner on Saturday night, giving the Maple Leafs their first post-season win in four years, but 'Dart Guy' was getting all the attention online. (Includes a surprise appearance from our very own Brigstew!)

2017 Stanley Cup playoffs - Secret to the Toronto Maple Leafs' success
The Toronto Maple Leafs have given the Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals fits in both games of their first-round series. A few active coaches tells us how they're doing it.

Other Hockey News

‘We can’t quit’: For Hamilton and the Calgary Flames, a chance to stage a comeback at home - The Globe and Mail
Calgary is down 2-0 to the Ducks, having lost 29 regular-season and playoff games in a row on Anaheim ice dating to the 2006 Western Conference quarter-finals.

With five Canadian teams in NHL playoffs, police prepare to keep fans in line - The Globe and Mail
Police in five Canadian cities are braced, but so far this postseason things have been quiet – must be something to do with losing​​

Here’s What Worked: Shutting Out The Blackhawks - On the Forecheck
The Preds made a clear statement in the first two games of this series. They will need to make an even bigger one in the next two.

Last Night's Games

The Penguins played the Blue Jackets last night, and won 5-4 in OT thanks to a Jake Guentzel hat trick. The Penguins now lead their series 3-0.

Also, Zach Werenski's face got destroyed. I'm not embedding it because it's gross, so click on the link at your own discretion.

The Blues beat the Wild 3-1, and they too take a 3-0 series lead. Jake Allen continues to look good, and the Wild are...well. Not looking good.

Out in San Jose, the Oilers won Game 3 against the Sharks 1-0. The game's lone goal was an unassisted effort by Zack Kassian, which is objectively hilarious. Who needs that McDavid guy, anyway?

The Habs took a 2-1 lead in their series with the Rangers, beating them 3-1. Alex Radulov did a nice thing to score the Habs' third goal:

Enjoy your Monday, all, and remember: BUDS ALL DAY.