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Video: Phil Kessel opens scoring against his old team, as Maple Leafs look to clinch playoff spot

Phil Kessel

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Buffalo, N.Y. Pittsburgh won 4-3. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)


How is this for a potential angle -- Phil Kessel coming back to haunt the Toronto Maple Leafs, his former team, as they look to clinch a playoff spot in the final weekend of the regular season?

With a win versus the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, the Maple Leafs are in. They would lock up a post-season berth with a young and talented core led up front by Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

Of course, the Penguins and Kessel have a chance to spoil the party.

Kessel, who played 446 regular season games for Toronto before being traded to Pittsburgh in a blockbuster -- and ripped in the media -- and was part of the Maple Leafs’ shocking playoff collapse in 2013, opened the scoring just 6:11 into the first period.

He deployed that terrific wrist shot past the blocker of Frederik Andersen, giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.

Anxious Maple Leafs fans quickly rejoiced 29 seconds later, though, as James van Riemsdyk scored to tie the game, showing tremendous hand-eye coordination and a pretty good wrist shot of his own.

The play was reviewed for a possible offside, but the goal stood.