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Maple Leafs GM Treliving praises Lightning for 'championship pedigree'

Lightning celebrate vs. Maple Leafs Lightning celebrate vs. Maple Leafs - The Canadian Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning are getting hot at the right time. 

With a 7-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday, the Lightning improved to 11-2-1 since March 1 to pull away in the wild-card race and close on the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning are just two points back of Toronto, who they defeated 4-1 on Wednesday, with one more game played as the final stretch of the season begins. Toronto, meanwhile, is trying to chase down the second-place Florida Panthers, who are six points ahead with two more games played.

Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving was full of praise for Tampa Bay, whose run of three straight Stanley Cup Finals came to an end in the first round against Toronto last year, prior to Treliving joining the team. 

“They are a team full of championship pedigree from top to bottom,” Treliving told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun for The Athletic. “They have champions’ standards and habits and a clear understanding of the level required when the calendar turns to April and beyond. They simply know how to win when it matters most, and that is a powerful trait.

“Besides their immense talent, they have the championship experience of understanding all nuances of each situation. Understanding the ebbs and flows of momentum and an elite knowledge of the gamesmanship required within the game. They have the earned calluses formed from championship runs.”

The Lightning are closing on securing a playoff spot for the seventh straight season, a run that has seen the team win two Stanley Cups. 

The Maple Leafs are on the verge of securing their eighth straight postseason berth, but playoff success has been hard to come by for the franchise. Their victory over the Lightning last year marked the Maple Leafs first series win since 2004, but the celebration was short-lived with a 4-1 series loss to the Florida Panthers in the second round. 

If the playoffs started Friday, the Lightning would face the Boston Bruins in the first round as the top wild-card seed, while the Maple Leafs would face the Panthers.