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Point scores in OT as Lightning down Maple Leafs 4-3 to drive Game 7


The Maple Leafs did every little thing they may to exorcise a protracted listing of playoff demons.

Toronto fought again from one other 2-0 deficit Thursday to take the lead heading into the third interval of Game 6, placing the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions on the ropes.

Then catastrophe struck with a pair of high-sticking penalties in fast succession to reward the Lightning a two-man benefit.

Tampa Bay wouldn’t miss, after which Brayden Point did what he appears to at all times do within the post-season — step up in large moments.

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The winger scored at 18:04 of extra time because the Lightning downed the Leafs 4-3 to drive a seventh and deciding sport of their first-round collection.

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A clutch performer throughout Tampa’s title runs, Point eased the winner over the aim line on a rebound between the legs of Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell after Alex Killorn took the preliminary shot in an additional interval that had been closely tilted in Toronto’s favour.

The play began after Leafs sniper Auston Matthews, who sparked his crew’s comeback with a aim halfway via the second, misplaced an edge within the impartial zone, permitting the Lightning to interrupt the opposite method.

“Our guys played hard,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe mentioned. “Not a lot between to the two teams. Loved how we played in overtime. We attacked, we had chances, plenty of opportunities to finish it, and really gave them nothing.

“They made good on their one look … that’s the difference.”

Toronto, which hasn’t moved onto the second spherical since 2004 and is now 0-8 in elimination video games during the last 5 playoffs, now heads dwelling to host Game 7 on Saturday with an anchor-like weight of historical past and expectation hanging round its collective neck.


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Leafs superfan reveals off cave devoted to crew


Leafs superfan reveals off cave devoted to crew

“What’s in the past is in the past,” Matthews mentioned. “We can’t change something now. It’s about this subsequent sport and going on the market with a goal and particulars and simply competing for 60 minutes or no matter it takes.

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“We’ve just got to put (everything) on the line and go for it.”

Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov had the opposite targets for the Lightning, who improved to an eye-popping 17-0 following a post-season loss since 2020.

“We know all we did was buy ourselves another chance to keep our season going,” mentioned Point, who scored his second aim of the collection. “Going into their building, their crowd has been rocking.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 30 pictures, whereas Point additionally had an help.

“No surprise,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos mentioned. “With Pointer, it’s his time of the year.”

John Tavares scored twice for Toronto, which obtained 31 saves from Campbell. William Nylander added two assists.

The Leafs are 7-2 all-time at dwelling in Game 7s, however misplaced at a mostly-empty Scotiabank Arena final season after blowing a 3-1 collection lead towards the Montreal Canadiens.

“We worked hard all year to earn the right to have home ice,” Toronto defenceman Morgan Rielly mentioned. “Now it’s a chance to put that to work.”

Toronto’s final Game 7 victory in hockey’s greatest market was 18 years in the past — the crew’s final collection victory — when Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice to beat the Ottawa Senators.

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“We had our looks in OT, unfortunately we just weren’t the ones to cash,” Tavares mentioned. “This is what the game’s all about. We’ve got to move on from here, regroup and look forward to the chance back at home.”

Vasilevskiy has received every one of many contests that make up Tampa’s 17-0 file after a loss within the final three playoffs, placing up a .942 save share with 5 shutouts.

The 2019 Vezina Trophy winner and final season’s Conn Smythe Trophy recipient hasn’t been his typical stellar self within the collection — his save share stands at .885 — however was adequate on this evening, together with 9 stops within the further interval.

“We did a lot of good things, but we couldn’t get the job done,” Matthews mentioned. “Now we’re going back on home ice with another opportunity to close out a series — do or die.

“The guys are excited about that, and I think we should be.”

Trailing 2-0 within the second after Cirelli’s highlight-reel effort with Tampa short-handed, Matthews — named one in all three finalists for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP earlier within the day — responded along with his fourth of the playoffs 54 seconds later when he tipped Mark Giordano’s level shot.

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Tavares then tied it with 33.7 seconds left within the interval when Vasilevskiy couldn’t management his shot with Jason Spezza swatting on the fluttering puck.

Toronto’s captain then gave his crew — which additionally fought again from a 2-0 gap at dwelling to win Game 5 by a 4-3 scoreline — its first lead of the evening with 7.8 seconds remaining on the clock when he buried his third in as many video games inside a surprised Amalie Arena.

The Lightning obtained that two-man benefit for 1:45 halfway via the third when David Kampf and Alexander Kerfoot had been whistled in fast succession, and Kucherov tied issues at 9:20 when he fired his second on Campbell.

The Leafs had been left fuming as a result of Kampf’s stick didn’t make contact with the face of Lightning defenceman Cal Foote on the primary name. The guests additionally complained Point’s chin strap was undone proper earlier than Kucherov scored, however the aim stood.

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“In that moment it’s tough to take,” Keefe mentioned of the Kampf choice. “But I have the benefit of a slow-motion replay. The officials don’t, so they’re in a tough position.

“It’s the way the game goes.”

A penalty-filled collection appeared to shift to a extra conventional playoff fashion because the officers let extra go on each side.

“I don’t have any comments about the refs,” mentioned Tavares, who was echoed by each Matthews and Rielly of their post-game media availabilities.

Brandon Hagel had a wonderful likelihood to provide Tampa the lead late in regulation, however missed the web from in tight with Campbell at his mercy.

Toronto had a pair nice alternatives early in extra time, however Vasilevskiy was there to disclaim each Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev earlier than Point received it.

After getting their doorways blown off early on the identical ice in Game 4 on the best way to struggling a 7-3 loss, the Leafs had an honest begin, however went down with the groups enjoying 4-on-4 late within the first.

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Kerfoot made an ill-advised drop go within the impartial zone to nobody. Palat jumped on the turnover and moved in on Campbell earlier than firing dwelling his third with 2:22 left within the interval.

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Vasilevskiy made large stops on Ilya Lyubushkin and Matthews on the rebound early within the second earlier than the Leafs obtained their first energy play.

But it was the Lightning that struck down a person when Cirelli picked up the puck following a Mikheyev turnover — Toronto’s second essential mistake of the evening — and moved into the offensive zone. The Tampa centre moved in one-on-one towards Giordano and used a spin-o-rama to create area earlier than firing low for his first of the collection at 10:46.

The Leafs would reply earlier than the Lightning pushed again.

Toronto now has another shot at unseating the champs and at last altering the Original Six franchise’s ugly playoff narrative.

“We had a great chance here,” Tavares mentioned. “We fought hard. Just didn’t get it done.

“We’ve got to find a way to get over the finish line.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press




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