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Matthews led Maple Leafs take Game 1 From Bolts

Photo by Wayne Masut

One thing no one can ever say is that Steven Stamkos has lost a step. For the first time in hos career, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain finished the regular season with over 100 points. Something else that happened that kind of involved Stamkos. Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews notched 60 goals in a single season. The last player to do that….. Steven Stamkos in 2011-2012.

During the last five games there wasn’t a team playing better and hitting their stride more than the Tampa Bay Lightning. Over those games Steven Stamkos led the team in goals (8) and points (16). Nikita Kucherov led the team with 10 assists and in the +/- with a plus 7. Over the same five games the Toronto Maple Leafs were led by William Nylander with four points, Ilya Mikheyev  with three goals, Morgan Riley with three assists and Mark Giordano with a plus three

Back and forth season series

This season the Lightning and Maple Leafs faced off for the first time in Toronto November 4th, that game went to overtime with the Leafs winning 2-1. December 9th the teams faced off again in Toronto with the Bolts winning 5-3. The teams didn’t play again until April 4th, the Leafs took that game by a lopsided 6-2 score in Tampa. Two weeks  later the teams faced off once again in Tampa, this time the Lightning took it to the Leafs 8-1. We all know the Maple Leafs recent playoff history, but this is the playoffs anything can and will happen. I won’t remind you about 2019 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Power play woes for the Lightning

Lets just get this out of the way, that was NOT  a good first period for the Lightning. Both teams went 0/2 with the man advantage. One of the major differences, the Bolts had a five minute power play following Kyle Clifford getting ejected for a blindside hit on Ross Colton. Five whole minutes and the Leafs outshot the Lightning!! With less than two minutes in the period Jake Muzzin put the Leafs up 1-0. That score would hold up as both teams went in for the first intermission.

Things just…. don’t look good

Early on in the 2nd period Tampa would get another chance wiith the man advantage, but once again it ended without evem a whimper or glimmer of hope. Tampa is just not looking good in this game. Meanwhile Toronto is 1-4 on the power play following a goal by Auston Matthews just over six minutes into the period while on a 5 on 3 power play. Just a hair over three miuntes later Toronto would get a shorthanded goal to take a 3-0 lead. It got worse  as Mitch Marner would put the Leafs up 4-0 with less than five minutes to go in the second.

Matthews puts the game out of reach

For some reason, the Lightning can’t seem to get out of their own way in this game. Ever since the five minute power play the Maple Leafs killed off the game hasn’t been the same.  Matthews and the Leafs have taken every Lightning miscue and buried it behind Vasilevskiy. One good thing, the Lightning haven’t lost back to back games in the playoffs in god knows how long.  To be exact it was when they got swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019.

Game Two of the Series

Wednesday May 4th 7:30pm from Toronto

Three Stars of the Game

3rd Star: Mitch Marner – 1 goal 2 assists

2nd Star: Auston Matthews – Three points (2g-1a)

1st Star: Jack Campbell – Literally stopped EVERYTHING including the kitchen sink

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