Lightning strike early, beat Maple Leafs to even series
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Talk about elasticity.
Two-time defending Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning have not lost a consecutive playoff game in almost three years, with 17 wins in a row since the start of their 2020 title race after losing the season.
After a 7-3 win over Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night, captain Steven Stamcos said a good recipe during play-offs is usually not to lose two in a row. Every game
Game 5 Tuesday night Toronto.
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“This team has proven that it knows what it takes at this time of year and we know how to respond,” Stamcos added. “Now that we’ve done it twice in this series, let’s get out and take the lead in the series. That should be the mentality.”
Ross Colton scored twice, Andrei Vasilevsky had 22 saves and Lightning got off to a quick start with three goals in the first eight minutes, denying the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead in the best-seven matchup. .
“We’re here on the road and a split. … In that sense, it’s a successful road trip,” said Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe, whose team won Game 3 to reclaim the home-ice advantage. “It doesn’t matter if you beat the game 2-1 or the way we did it. You wash it and move on. We’ll be better next time.”
Stamcos, Pierre Edward Bellmeyer and Pat Marun scored in the opening game against 3-star Jack Campbell of the game, setting the tone for the long night for a great performance for the Toronto goalkeeper two nights ago.
Corey Perry and Andrej Platt also scored, and Brandon Hegel and Nikita Kuchchev each provided two assists for Lightning.
“When we play like this, we have to find a way to do it in the next match,” Maroon said. “We know we can do it. We know what works. We know what works for our team.”
Vasilevsky improved to 17-0 in games after losing the last three seasons for the defending champions.
William Nylander scored twice and Jack Muzin scored for Maple Leafs. Campbell conceded five goals in 16 shots and was replaced by Eric Calgren in the second period, who stopped all 10 shots he faced.
“They scored on their first shot and took it to us,” Campbell said. “For me, I just look in the mirror and learn from what I’ve done wrong.”
Tampa Bay gave the final touch of an impressive performance in the final at 5:20 with a goal from Palat and Colton’s empty-net.
The Lightning felt they were self-destructing in games 1 and 3, spending much more time in the penalty box against a team that had the NHL’s top-ranked power play in the regular season.
They had been on top of Maple Leaf since the start of Sunday night, with Stamcos beating Campbell just inside the Blue Line just minutes into the game. Belmeyer and Maroun scored in the next seven minutes to make it 3-0.
Things got worse for Toronto from there, who pulled Campbell after Colton’s goal from the slot and, with the help of Perry-Kucherov and Braden Point, delivered for a 5-0 lead in the 5-on-3 powerplay: 25 of the second term.
The five-goal deficit would have been even bigger had it not been for Toronto’s penalty-killing unit game. Tampa Bay was 1 out of 7 in Powerplay through two periods and finished 1 out of 8. Maple Leafs, meanwhile, had 0 for 2 in the man-advantage situation, eventually breaking out against Vasilevsky with the first of Nylander’s two goals at 2:27 of the third.
Vasilevsky and the Lightning again slowed down Austin Mathews and Mitchell Marner in Toronto. Mathews had an early assist in Nylander’s first goal, but the NHL’s top goal-scorer in the regular season did not score until the third period.
“We went down early, it’s hard to come back,” said Muzzin. “A lot more fines. We have to be prepared for the next one.”
The first goal
The team that scores first wins every game in the series. No lead changed.
Sunday night marked the fourth time in the past three post-seasons that Lightning has scored seven or more goals in a game. Eight high franchises for goals in next season’s game.
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