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Leafs Down Bolts in Round One Preview

With the Stanley Cup playoffs less than a week away, much remains uncertain. Sixteen teams will compete. Thirteen of those teams have already clinched their playoff berths. Of those 13, only two already know their first round opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have clinched second place in the Atlantic division and the Lightning have clinched third to secure a first round playoff matchup between these two heavyweights. The two teams face off tonight at Amalie Arena in a round one preview.

Round One Preview (Sort of)

Although these two teams have their dance cards set for next week, the actual faces will look different. Toronto is playing without stars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and have rookie netminder Joseph Woll between the pipes. After a tough battle against the Panthers last night, the Leafs are giving their big guys some rest.

In addition to this being a first round playoff preview, it was also a night to celebrate the Lightning Captain, Steven Stamkos. Stamkos played in his 1000th career game on the road in New York on April 6th and was honored tonight for his accomplishment.

Round One Looks to be a Chippy Affair

If tonight is truly an indication of the series in store, then get ready for a chippy affair! This one started with a Lightning penalty just 11 seconds in. But they would not stay shorthanded for long, as the Leafs took a penalty just 21 seconds later. Around the midway point of the period, the teams exchanged power play opportunities. The Lightning could not capitalize on theirs, but William Nylander took full advantage of the Leafs’ opportunity, putting his team up 1-0. Just over one minute later, Alex Killorn tied it up with his 26th of the season.

Then came some end-to-end action from two tough guys. Pat Maroon seemed to score to put the Bolts up 2-1. But the Leafs challenged for goaltender interference and the goal was called back. On the ensuing play, Luke Schenn fired the puck past Andrei Vasilevskiy and it was the Leafs who took the 2-1 lead. With just over a minute remaining in the frame, Maroon and Schenn took center stage again. This time for brawl. Both were done for the remainder of the period.

Bolts Hit a Woll as Round One Preview Heats Up

This afternoon, the Leafs were permitted to add Joseph Woll to their roster on a salary-cap exception. That turned out to be quite a lucky break for Toronto as he was absolutely stellar in net.

The Lightning did manage to tie the game at 5:21 of the second. After sustained pressure, and a barrage of great saves, Nick Perbix wristed his 5th of the season past the Woll guarding the Leafs’ net.

But the penalty bug came back to bite the Bolts again as the period wound down. Toronto took a penalty, but just 42 seconds into that Lightning power play, Nikita Kucherov was called for tripping. Then, 14 seconds later, Mike Eyssimont went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Leafs capitalized to go up 3-2.

Once again, the Bolts would head to the dressing room trailing by a goal, despite having a sizable shot advantage. Through two, the Lightning were outshooting their opponents  33-20 but struggling to break through the Woll.

Bolts Fall Short in Playoff Preview

The Lightning had their opportunities to tie this one up as the third period went on. But nothing went their way. They had power play opportunities but just couldn’t seem to get set up. When they did get shots away, Woll was there to cover the puck.

Then, at the 12:33 mark, we did see another goal. Unfortunately, it was Ryan O’Reilly beating Vasilevskiy to put the Leafs up by two goals at 4-2.

The Bolts would get that one back a minute and 16 seconds later as Mikhail Sergachev scored unassisted.

They got a grand chance in the final 2 minutes as the Leafs took a penalty and the Bolts pulled Vasilevskiy for a full 2-minute 6 on 4 advantage. But, yet again, they could not capitalize and this one ended 4-3.

Following the game, Coach Jon Cooper lamented the fact that there had been no intensity in that game. He commented that if it looked intense to the fans, that was an incorrect observation, as he considered the game a disappointment overall.

3 Stars

1- Joseph Woll- Excellent performance in net as an emergency call-up

2- Calle Jarnkrok- 1 goal, 1 assist

3- Nikita Kucherov- 1 assist, 10 shots on goal

Up Next

The Lightning will wrap up the regular season on Thursday night at 7pm at Amalie Arena against the Detroit Red Wings.



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