Big games for Leafs, Raptors and Blue Jays fans add up to special night in downtown Toronto
|Toronto Star 23 Apr 2019 at 04:47|
Toronto fans have had their hearts broken in Beantown twice in five years, with the Bruins ending the Leafs season in the deciding game in both 2013 and last year.
Six years ago, the Leafs led 4-1 with 12 minutes left in the third period only to cough up the lead and lose in overtime. Last year, Toronto had a 4-3 advantage going into the third period before the Bruins scored four unanswered goals to knock out the Leafs 7-4.
Toronto has a 3-1 lead in a playoff series for the first time in franchise history. If they win the series, the Raptors would play either the Philadelphia 76ers or Brooklyn Nets in the second round.
Toronto police say there will be a combined tailgate party at Maple Leaf Square, alias Jurassic Park; the Raptors will be on the big screen, while smaller screens will show the hockey action.
Police say road restrictions to accommodate the outdoor party will include closing of York St. between Lakeshore Blvd. and Front St. as well as closure of Bremner Blvd. east of Grand Trunk Cres.
Fan favourite Kevin Pillar will be returning to Rogers Centre for the first time since the rebuilding Jays earlier this month (7 p.m., Sportsnet One).
“Thank you isn’t enough Toronto,” Pillar posted on Instagram shortly after the deal. “I gave you my heart and you gave me yours back.”
Pillar, dubbed Superman by Jays fans for his highlight-reel catches in the outfield, hit a grand-slam homer against the Padres in his first week with the new team.
It’s been a fun time to be a Toronto sports fan this month, and it culminated Friday when six of the city’s professional sports teams won — the Leafs, Raptors, Jays, Marlies, TFC and Wolfpack.
It’s a far cry from those dark days when neither the Leafs or Raptors would make the playoffs in the spring.
If both the Raptors and Leafs win, it would only be the second time that both teams have advanced to the second round in the same year. The only time that has happened was in the 2000-01 season when the Raptors beat the Knicks and the Leafs swept the Senators.