Chaotic events change the game as Corey Perry helps Lightning crush the Maple Leafs in Game 1. For the second year in a row these two teams face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. For Tampa, they looked to brush aside the sluggish end to the season and show they mean business in the playoffs. On the other hand, Toronto wanted to make sure they keep home ice advantage and prove they are not a fluke. Nobody could have guessed just how crazy this game would end up being. Losing 2 defensemen and a key depth player would make you think Toronto would run away with the game, but the opposite occurred. Lightning remained resilient and even chased Ilya Samsonov out of the game. The intensity of the playoffs was on full display in an entertaining game that saw a slew of penalties be called in the second period. Those penalties turned out to be the difference maker in favor of the visiting Lightning.
Scoring a pair early
To begin, Tampa wasted no time getting the puck on net and applying pressure. That pressure would be rewarded with a goal from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Bellemare fired in the rebound from Corey Perry to give the Bolts an early 1-0 lead. Then, Toronto looked to answer back with a couple of rushes. Andrei Vasilevskiy was able to fend off the rushes while the defense kept the Leafs in check. To this point Toronto only had 3 shots on net. Next, Tampa would add to their lead on yet another rebound opportunity. This time it was Anthony Cirelli with the goal to give the Lightning a 2-0 lead 7 minutes into the period. Around the midway point of the period is when the first penalty would be called. Jake McCabe was booked for hi-sticking giving the Lightning a power play opportunity.
Beating the buzzer
While nothing seemed to go Toronto’s way, their penalty kill was on point and shut down the Bolts offense. As the second half of the opening frame went on Toronto’s offense surged hungry to score a goal. Intensity remained high which should not be a surprise to anyone given how these teams play especially in the playoffs. Afterwards, Lightning went on the power play yet again with just under a minute to go. TJ Brodie was called for holding but this time Tampa would not go empty handed on the man advantage. Nikita Kucherov wasted no time to fire the puck on net and scored with just 2.6 seconds left in the period. Period then ended with the Lightning up 3-0.
Toronto trying to find a goal
Second period began with both teams exchanging the puck in each other’s zone. Once again, Vasy remained solid in net making it difficult for the Maple Leafs to get on the board. Also, most of the shots in the early stages belonged to the Maple Leafs as they were determined to answer Vasilevskiy. Lightning began to be sloppier with the puck having difficulties with clearing the puck. After an icing call Erik Cernak is called for roughing giving the Leafs their first chance on the power play.
Leafs get on the board
Unfortunately, Toronto would finally get on the board with a power play goal from Ryan O’Reilly. A tic-tac-toe play allowed the Leafs to finally answer Vasilevskiy on a penalty call that could have easily been avoided. Bolts still held a 3-1 lead. However, Tampa then would receive their third power play of the night and applied pressure right away. Numerous blocks by the Leafs defense prevented quality chances from getting to Samsonov and killing much of the man-advantage. As the penalty was set to expire Lightning cough up a slashing penalty and went back on the penalty kill. Little did the teams know this game would become chaotic.
An exchange of goals
Again, Leafs score on the man-advantage to pull within 1 goal of the Lightning. Bolts could not clear the puck which allowed William Nylander to score with ease. Penalties continued to be called with some being questionable ones. Regardless, Lightning looked to answer the Nylander goal with a power play goal of their own and did just that. First the depth players scored the goals and now it was the team’s stars to join in on the fun. Brayden Point gave the Lightning a 4-2 lead and it was a much needed goal to regain the two goal lead. Minutes later the game would get heated after Michael Bunting and Cernak exchange words.
Chaotic events change the game
That led to Bunting elbowing Cernak in the head and was given a major penalty. He was then also given a match penalty and would be done for the night. With Cernak out the Lightning were down to only 4 defensemen. This chaotic game continued as the Lightning looked to have scored. The initial call on the ice was a goal but nobody could tell where the puck was. After review the call on the ice stood and it was either a goal from Ross Colton or Perry. Without delay, Toronto challenged the goal for interference, but it was to no avail. Point then scored with two seconds left to extend the lead 6-2. Despite being without Cernak, Hedman, and Eyssimiont the Lightning continued to score on the power play and dominate the game heading into the third period.
THAT'S IT. THAT'S THE TWEET. pic.twitter.com/EetJeIAQV4
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 19, 2023
No hope left for the Maple Leafs
To begin, Leafs made a change in net with Joseph Woll taking over for Samsonov. Lightning began the period playing sloppy but did not give up a goal because of it. Toronto went on the power play for a third time and looked to go 3/3 on the man-advantage. This time Lightning finally were able to kill a penalty which has been Toronto’s bright spot. Colton soon scored after a beautiful pass from Nick Perbix to extend the lead 7-2. In response, Calle Jarnkrok scored to then make it a 7-3 game. After, the chaotic game would finally calm down with half the period now played. At this point, Tampa looked to just keep control of the puck and prevent Toronto from gaining hope.
A dominating victory despite the injuries
Once again, there was no sign of the injured Bolts and it looked like they would be out for the remainder of the game. Nick Paul nearly made it 8-3 but was stopped by Woll. With 4:55 left to go Cirelli is called for tripping giving the Maple Leafs their fourth power play of the night. Bolts killed off the penalty maintaining the 5 goal lead. All in all, Lightning went on to take Game 1 with a final score of 7-3. Nobody expected the game to be this chaotic but that is the beauty of playoff hockey, it is always unpredictable. Lightning will look to repeat this performance in Game 2 on Thursday night.
Three stars of the game
1st Star: Corey Perry – 1 goal and 2 assists
2nd Star: Brayden Point – 2 goals
3rd Star: Nikita Kucherov – 1 goal and 2 assists
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