Maple Leafs release projected lines for Game 5

Can the Leafs close it out tonight?



The Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in familiar (and also unfamiliar) territory entering tonight's pivotal Game 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. 

Because of their 3-1 series lead, they have the chance to become the first NHL team to advance this postseason after the Bruins failed to do so last night against the Florida Panthers. As you may recall, the Leafs have been here before with the chance to punch their ticket to Round 2 of the playoffs for the first time since 2004 in recent years, having played in several deciding Game 7's, including in 2021 against the rival Montreal Canadiens in which they enjoyed an identical 3-1 series lead. 

We don't need to go into how all of those postseason series ended up, as Leafs fans are all too familiar with the refrain that's plagued them for years now of being unable to put together four victories when it matters. But in 2023, it feels different given how they stole both games at Amalie Arena in overtime, including a furious four unanswered goal comeback in Game 4 that put the Lightning on the brink of elimination.

The Leafs will be keeping forward Michael Bunting out of the lineup, even though he's now eligible to return from the three game suspension he served for his dirty elbow on Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in Game 1. Rookie Matthew Knies will get another opportunity to strut his stuff at the NHL level, while it will once again be Ilya Samsonov between the pipes. Take a look at tonight's projected line combinations via beat writer Jonas Siegel:


Calle Järnkrok — Auston Matthews — William Nylander
Matthew Knies — John Tavares — Mitch Marner
Alex Kerfoot — Ryan O’Reilly — Noel Acciari
Zach Aston-Reese — David Kämpf — Sam Lafferty


Jake McCabe — T.J. Brodie
Mark Giordano — Justin Holl
Morgan Rielly — Luke Schenn


Ilya Samsonov
Joseph Woll

Tonight's Game 5 will begin from Scotiabank Arena at 7:00 PM EST. 

Source: Twitter