Toronto hockey fans to gather downtown as Leafs try to exorcise playoff demons

TORONTO — Maple Leafs fans gather in downtown Toronto tonight as the team seeks to reach the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs for the first time since 2004.

The Maple Leafs are leading 3-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning after back-to-back comeback wins in Florida and are looking to wrap up the series on home ice tonight.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said it will continue to host an outdoor viewing party for fans at downtown Maple Leaf Square outside Scotiabank Arena for tonight’s game. MLSE is encouraging fans to sign up for a free mobile his pass on the Maple Leafs mobile app for admission to the tailgate party on the plaza.

Gates to the plaza event open two hours before the 7pm pack drop and close by the end of the second break.

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Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keef applauds Matthews and Liery for scoring in OT’s win over the Lightning.

Toronto Police have said they will have a visible police presence in the area surrounding Scotiabank Arena to ensure public safety and minimize disruption.

According to police, many road restrictions will be in place at the end of the game to control pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

MLSE encourages fans to use public transportation to and from Maple Leaf Square for safety reasons.

Leafs fans have high hopes for this matchup, hoping for another outcome for a franchise that hasn’t had a Stanley Cup since 1967 and has been marked by a long list of recent playoff failures.

The Maple Leafs’ recent iteration collapsed under the weight of expectations, leading the series 2-1 and 3-2 before losing seven games to the Lightning in the first round last spring.

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While the team has 0-9 chances of eliminating postseason opponents since 2018, Tampa lifted the Cup in 2020 and 2021 before losing to Colorado in the finals last year.

If the Leafs are denied tonight, Game 6 of this series will go back to Tampa.

Click to play video: 'Tailgating party returns to Jurassic Park with changes for fans'

Tailgate party returns to Jurassic Park, including changes for fans

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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