In the last three postseasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning have faced elimination from the playoffs a total of five times. They have won 4 and lost 1 of these games. Back in the 2021 playoffs, against the New York Islanders, they faced a Game 7. They won. Last year in the first round against Toronto, the Bolts faced elimination twice and won both games. Also, last season against Colorado, they faced elimination twice in Game 5 and Game 6. They won one and lost one. A couple of days ago during Game 5 in Toronto, the Lightning had to win or go home. They won. Tonight at Amalie Arena, they face elimination again in Game 6. Win, and they go back to Toronto in a Game 7. Lose, and their season is over. This is where we are.
For a team facing elimination, the Lightning did what they had to do in Game 5. Taking a little pressure off themselves and putting a little on the Maple Leafs with the win. Prior to the start of Game 6, they are saying and doing all the right things. Appearing unfazed by the must win Game 6 they face.
One thing for certain, the atmosphere in Amalie Arena was electric. That was without the Tesla coils firing. The Lightning took control early spending a good amount of time in Toronto’s zone. About halfway through the initial period, Steven Stamkos was called for a tripping penalty. In any playoff game, killing a penalty is huge. In an elimination game, it’s critical. Especially, in a scoreless tie. Toronto only got one shot on their power play and the Bolts killed off the Stamkos penalty.
The kill was huge and shifted momentum towards the Lightning. It didn’t last long as Nikita Kucherov was whistled for a tripping penalty. Back to the penalty kill for the Lightning. Toronto did muster two shots on this power play but were held off the scoreboard. At the end of the first period, we are where we started. All tied up at zero.
Who Lights the Lamp
As soon as the second period began, former Lightning Luke Schenn was called for a high sticking penalty. The Lightning managed one shot despite significant zone time. Clearly, both teams were putting a premium on their penalty kill units. Still scoreless. Back and forth these two teams went. Both goalies making good saves for their teams.
When Mikhail Sergachev failed to clear the puck out of the Bolts zone, the Lightning paid the price. Auston Matthews scored the first goal of Game 6. With a little over six minutes remaining in the second, now, the Lightning must respond.
They had their chance. Just under four minutes left in the middle frame when Toronto committed a penalty. This power play chance saw a couple more shots than the first opportunity. Stamkos even ranged one off the post, but no goal. The period ended with Toronto in the lead by the lone goal.
Game 6 Heroics
Right from the start of the third period the Lightning we’re taking it to the Leafs. Maybe it was desperation, maybe it was supreme focus. Didn’t matter. The ice was tilted in favor of the Lightning.
At 4:11 of the period. Stamkos put in a rebound of a Darren Raddysh shot to tie the game. Amalie was rocking through most of the game but now it was downright thundering. If the Lightning want to stave off elimination, they need to take it now.
Steven Stamkos ties the game in the 3rd period!
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 30, 2023
The Lightning have the momentum and they have the crowd going. They also have the Leafs on their heels a bit. Though this Leafs team isn’t the Leafs of old. There have been many moments where I thought the Leafs would fold. They didn’t.
These two combatants were giving it their all. Most of the play was in the Leafs zone though they had a few good chances to score. As the clock wound down, the Lightning were blocking shots like their season was on the line. Anthony Cirelli, Nick Perbix and Stamkos all laid it out to block shots by Toronto. It all mattered as regulation ended with both teams tied at one.
How Will Game 6 End?
The Lightning looked to be able to take this series to a Game 7 in the overtime. Mikey Eyssimont had a breakaway but Ilya Samsonov closed his five hole. There were a couple of other chances but this Toronto team was fighting a generation of ghosts. John Tavares fired a shot towards Andrei Vasilevskiy. The puck hit the skate of Raddysh and past Vasilevskiy for the game and the series.
- Auston Matthews – Scored game’s opening goal and 4 block shots
- Steven Stamkos – Scored Lightning’s only goal and a huge blocked shot in the third period
- Ilya Samsonov – Had 31 saves on the 32 shots he faced
The 2023-24 Season.
- A Winning Organization (on and off the ice) May 6, 2023
- Huge Game 6 OT Win for Toronto, Take Series 4-2 April 29, 2023
- Round one game five, win! April 27, 2023
- Rough Third Period Costs Bolts Game 4 April 24, 2023
- Pivotal Game 3 Goes to Leafs in OT April 23, 2023
- Tavares, Leafs Flip Script as Series Heads to Tampa Tied at 1 April 21, 2023
- Chaotic period becomes game changer in Game 1 win over Toronto April 18, 2023
- NHL First Round Playoff Series: Lightning vs. Maple Leafs April 18, 2023
- Who’s out? A very Tampa off-season preview April 16, 2023
- Point’s 50th (and 51st) Goal Help Lightning End Season On A Winning Note April 13, 2023