Ontario Independent

Saturday, September 23, 2023

To tie the first-round series 2-2, the Lightning bury the Maple Leafs early

The Lightning bury the Maple Leafs early in the first round, tying the series 2-2.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning won 7-3 on Sunday to even their first-round playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs at 2-2.
  • On a night when it might have taken a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the squad looked embarrassingly flat. Kallgren made eleven stops in all.
  • The Leafs removed Kallgren with 6 minutes left in regulation, but Palat scored into an open goal before Muzzin netted at 15:41 to make it 6-3.

On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 to even their first-round playoff series at 2-2. Steven Stamkos scored 1 minute into the first period to start an early barrage.

The other goals for the 2-time defending Stanley Cup champions came from Ross Colton, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Pat Maroon, Corey Perry, and Ondrej Palat. Nikita Kucherov contributed two assists as well.

Following a setback in Game 3, Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 22 shots from going to 16-0 in the last three postseasons after the Leafs won 5-2.

William Nylander scored again for Toronto, while Jake Muzzin beat Vasilevskiy with the match out of reach.

For the Leafs, Jack Campbell gave up five goals on 16 shots before being replaced by Erik Kallgren. The team was shamefully flat on a night when it could have taken a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Kallgren had a total of ten stops.

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The series now travels to Scotiabank Arena for Game 5 on Tuesday, with Game 6 returning at Amalie Arena on Thursday. If needed, Match 7 will be played on Saturday in Toronto.

To get more out of a top line that Anthony Cirelli, Brayden Point mostly neutralized, and Alex Killorn in Game 3 with Tampa Bay getting the very last change at home, Leaf’s head coach Sheldon Keefe started the game with Alexander Kerfoot on the wing beside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

However, Toronto, which finished the ordinary season with 115 points, five more than the Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division, started with its third line and 3rd defense pair and is now on the back foot from the start as Tampa’s best units arrived in waves against a wary opponent.

Stamkos launched another of his trademark bullets a minute into the 1st to blow the roof off the sold-out rink after Toronto defenseman Justin Holl couldn’t escape the zone after being robbed by Campbell on a late one-timer in Game 3 with Tampa pressing to tie.

At 5:20, Leaf’s blueliners Jake Muzzin as well as Campbell, couldn’t control a puck down low that popped out to Bellemare in the slot, putting the visitors down 2-0.

Tampa made it 3-0 as the onslaught resumed with a 2nd fourth-line goal when Maroon bounced on another miscue by a Toronto defender – Morgan Rielly was the culprit this time – and also poked home his rebound at 7:58 after Campbell made a superb pad stop.

With the shots on goal at 8-1, Vasilevskiy didn’t have much to do on the other end, but he was called upon late in the period as Toronto began to show some life.

Before last season’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as postseason MVP had to be alert on a deflection down low, Matthews shot a wicked backhand off the crossbar.

But the Lightning ended any hopes of a comeback at 3:17 of the second period when Colton’s shot deflected off Campbell’s glove for his second goal in as many games.

The Lightning bury the Maple Leafs early in the first round, tying the series 2-2.
The Lightning bury the Maple Leafs early in the first round, tying the series 2-2. Image from CBC News

After a John Tavares was called for hooking and David Kampf blasted the puck out of play nine seconds later for a delay-of-game call, Tampa made it 5-0 on a long 5-on-3 man advantage at 5:25, the third goal from a Lightning fourth-liner.

Campbell continued in the game for a few more minutes until being replaced by Kallgren after a lengthy conversation with Keefe on the bench during a TV timeout.

Nylander put Toronto on the board with a man-advantage goal at 2:27 of the third period, spoiling Vasilevskiy’s bid for his eighth postseason shutout before adding his second playoffs at 12:05 with the sides skating 4 on 4.

With 6 minutes left in regulation, the Leafs pulled Kallgren, but Palat scored into an open net before Muzzin scored at 15:41 to make it 6-3.

However, Colton sealed the game by scoring his second goal into an empty net.

Toronto hasn’t claimed a playoff round since 2004 – before the NHL implemented a salary cap as well as two lockouts – and is hoping to break a Cup drought that dates back to 1967.

Half an hour before warmups, Toronto fans collected around the team’s tunnel resulting to the ice surface and began chanting “Go Leafs Go.” At the same time, Tampa’s match operations crew trolled the visitors by putting a “1967” sign on the rink’s massive scoreboard ahead of the first faceoff before the Lightning imposed their will early and very often.

The Canadian Press initially published this information on May 8, 2022.

Source: CTV news

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