Nylander and Bunting clap back at each other before tonight's game

Graham Montgomery
April 8, 2024  (5:13 PM)

Mitch Marner celebrating a goal with Michael Bunting and Auston Matthews
Photo credit: Sportsnet

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins have a game tonight that could prove to be extremely important for both clubs. Ahead of the contest, William Nylander and Michael Bunting decided to chirp each other.

While the Leafs have solidified their spot in the playoffs, they are still within striking distance of the Florida Panthers for the 2nd spot in the Atlantic division. The Penguins on the other hand remain locked into a battle for the final wild-card spot after their current hot stretch has them miraculously in the hunt. As a result, the team should be hungry for another victory tonight. Ahead of the game, William Nylander and Michael Bunting joked about going at it during the game.
William Nylander on facing old friend Michael Bunting: "I'll get under his skin"

Bunting on Nylander: "He was joking around with me, saying that he's ready to fight me any time I want ... I'll be all over him tonight for sure"
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan also gave Bunting a lot of credit for the Penguins current hot streak. He says that he has reenergized Evgeni Malkin, elevating him to his old standard of play. The coach seems to greatly appreciate Bunting's physical, grindy style of hockey.
Sullivan on Bunting: "He's kind of dragged Geno into the fight, so to speak, down low in the grind game. Geno's getting inside with some of the goals Geno's scored lately."

Malkin's 1.51 points-per-game against Leafs is his highest against any team
If the Penguins do pull off an upset tonight, Bunting will likely be a big part of it as he faces his former club. Another win for the Pens could go a very long way in getting them into the playoffs, but they will likely still need a little bit of help from some of the teams they are chasing. The Flyers have certainly obliged as they have fallen out of the playoff picture. This does mean however, that the Leafs have a chance to break hearts in Pittsburgh tonight.