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Toronto needs win over Caps, plus help, to extend playoff drive past Tuesday

TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs’ margin for error is down to zero.

In order to qualify for the playoffs, they must win their three remaining games in regulation or overtime and have Buffalo fail to record a point in any of its three games.

If either scenario fails to play out, Toronto’s playoff drought will reach a franchise-record six seasons.

The playoff push could end as soon as Tuesday night with the Maple Leafs hosting Washington at Air Canada Centre. Buffalo is home to Tampa Bay.

Toronto’s playoff hopes took a big hit Monday night when the New York Rangers erased a three-goal deficit and beat the Boston Bruins 5-3.

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That put the Rangers out of reach for the Leafs and ensured the highest they can finish in the Eastern Conference is eighth.

The team can’t even afford to win another game in a shootout. The NHL’s tiebreaking format was altered this season to include only wins in regulation and overtime, and Toronto needs three more of those to match Buffalo in the standings.

The Leafs have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL since the all-star break, going 18-7-5 heading into Tuesday’s game.