There was a lot to like about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game Saturday night. Unfortunately, the final score was not one of those things. The Bolts outplayed the Toronto Maple Leafs for almost the entire game and held a lead as the clock approached the final minute. But the Leafs tied it up with a minute remaining and went on to win in overtime– thanks so some great saves from Ilya Samsonov. The big question coming into tonight is… will the Leafs’ resilience and will to win in a game where they were outplayed carry them forward? Or will the Lightning continue their solid play and get rewarded for it tonight?
Special Teams Lead the Way in First Period
The crowd was into this one before the starting puck drop. Fans, still reeling from some questionable game 3 calls, were interspersing a series of “Refs, you suck!” into their standard “Let’s go Bolts!” chants. The Amalie faithful then breathed a collective sigh of relief as star forward Brayden Point took the ice. Earlier in the day, news had come out the Point was to be a game-time decision tonight after going hard into the boards Saturday night.
As happened throughout game 3, the Bolts dominated period one tonight. They applied sustained pressure in the first few minutes. But, adding fuel to the fans’ fire, the referee called a cross-checking penalty on Anthony Cirelli at just about the 7-minute mark. The Lightning penalty kill unit looked strong and at one point, Brandon Hagel headed up the ice on a shorthanded breakway. Morgan Rielly tripped him from behind. Hagel was awarded a penalty shot but Samsonov made the save and the Leaf power play continued, The Bolts held them at bay and the teams were back at even strength. But not for long. Less than 30 seconds later, the Bolts got a power play of their own. It did not take them long to capitalize as Nikita Kucherov shoveled a beautiful pass to an open Alex Killorn in front of the net to put the Lightning up 1-0.
ALEX KILLORN, EVERYONE pic.twitter.com/Dt0Gs6u1Wc
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 25, 2023
Sergachev is A-OK
In a bit of a frightening moment early on, Mikhail Sergachev left the ice in pain. He stood in the hallway for a few minutes, attempting to shake it off. Fortunately, he did return to the ice and with time winding down in the period, he made his presence felt. With just over a minute and half remaining in the frame, Kucherov showed off his wizard-like passing skills as he put it right onto the tape of Sergachev’s stick. Sergachev made no mistake hammering it home to put the Bolts up 2-0.
Sources confirm Mikhail Sergachev is THRIVING
— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) April 25, 2023
Leafs Fight Back in Second Period
The Bolts had dominated the first period. They led 2-0 and held a 12-5 advantage in shots. But Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe must have given a heck of a motivational speech in the intermission because his Leafs came out fired up in the second. They took the play to the Bolts for the first several minutes and got rewarded just before the 5-minute mark as Noel Acciari scored to pull the Leafs back within a single goal.
Lady Luck Finally Smiles on Bolts
The Leafs continued to press and the Lightning came up with another strong penalty kill. Then, the Bolts finally had a lucky bounce go their way! Victor Hedman fired a shot from the point that bounced off Steven Stamkos and into the net.
AYE, AYE, CAPTAIN!!!! pic.twitter.com/ecnqAyXaFw
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 25, 2023
Killorn Strikes Again
And then, as in the previous period, the Bolts went to work in the dying moments of the second frame. Brandon Hagel hustled in and dropped the puck behind him to an oncoming Alex Killorn. Killorn fired a beautiful shot off the top of the crossbar and into the net to give the Bolts a 4-1 lead.
And Then Came the Third Period
The Lightning looked in command for the first two and half periods. But the wheels fell off in the third period. In the span of 6 and a half minutes. As we approached the halfway point, Auston Matthews wristed a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy to pull the Leafs to within 2. Minutes later, the Leafs got a power play and Matthews scored again to pull the Leafs within a goal. Then, three and a half minutes later, Morgan Rielly tied the game at 4-4.
Leafs Take Another OT Game
After their big third period comeback, the Leafs had all the momentum. Alex Kerfoot scored to win it on the power play just over 4 minutes in and give the Leafs a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series.
1- Alex Kerfoot- OT winner
2- Auston Matthews- 2 goal in 3rd period
3- Alex Killorn- 2 goals
The Leafs will look to close out this series on Thursday night in Toronto. Game gets underway at 7pm.
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