NHL Playoffs: Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated in Game 7

TORONTO-

Nick Paul scored twice, including an incredible individual effort in the game-winner late in the second period, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday to win their first-round playoff series 4-3. .

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

Morgan Rielly answered for Toronto, which hasn’t been to the second round since 2004 and is now 0-9 in games in which it can eliminate an opponent in the last five postseasons after also losing Game 6 by a score of 4-3 in overtime. in Tampa two nights before.

Jack Campbell stopped 23 shots.

Despite their best efforts, the Leafs once again failed to move forward and finally turn around a long and ugly narrative of playoff failure for a franchise that has now lost its last seven series, including six in a row since 2017.

Toronto is now 7-3 all-time at home in Game 7, including a loss at Scotiabank Arena last season after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens.

Down 1-0 after 20 minutes on Saturday, the Leafs appeared to tie the game at 11:28 of the second when John Tavares fired a shot at Vasilevskiy, but the goal was disallowed after Toronto defenseman Justin Holl was out. whistled for interference.

Campbell had to make a couple of desperate saves on the ensuing penalty to set the stage for Rielly’s equalizer in a Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews setup to score his third of the playoffs at 6:35 to send the crowd of 19,316 in a chaos. frenzy.

The goal was the first given up by Vasilevskiy and the Lightning in their last six series decider games.

William Nylander then missed high on a breakaway and the Tampa goalie stole Matthews with the Leafs buzzing.

But Paul scored his second of the night, and second in the playoffs, with 3:28 left in the period on an excellent play in which he kicked the puck from his skate to his post.

Tampa nearly made it 3-1 late in the period when Kucherov hit Campbell’s post from the slot.

Vasilevskiy was under siege throughout the Leafs’ power play just over six minutes into the third, but held off the home team despite some furious pressure.

Toronto continued to push inside an anxious and tense track as the clock ticked down.

The Leafs, however, just couldn’t find a way with Campbell on the bench for an extra attack to complete another chapter of playoff disappointment.

Both teams had excellent opportunities for early breakthroughs, but Vasilevskiy and Campbell were present throughout.

Tavares almost wasted he opened the scoring on a big chance in the closing where Vasilevskiy fired his left pad before the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner denied Marner.

Campbell then held the fort on a power play from Lightning in a couple of great looks for the visitors.

Brayden Point, who scored Tampa’s game-winning goal in Game 6 to extend the series, was injured late in the first when his right leg got caught under him as he fell to the ice. The winger, in agony as he made his way down the tunnel to the locker room, attempted to return for the second period but shut it down after a brief turn.

The Lightning went up 1-0 moments after Point fell in the first when Paul, who had several chances in Game 5 with his team ahead before Toronto roared, scored his first.

Campbell made the opening save on Ross Colton’s only time of the run to cut Rielly’s stick, but the rebound fell to Paul at 1:36 when Toronto allowed the first goal for the fourth straight game.

The Lightning were playing in their second Game 7 since the start of the 2020 playoffs after defeating the New York Islanders 1-0 at home in the semifinals last June.

Toronto’s last Game 7 at home with fans: The club’s 2021 loss against Montreal was played in front of 550 healthcare workers due to COVID-19 restrictions, going back to 2004 when Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice to oust the Senators from Ottawa.

The Leafs didn’t make the playoffs again until 2013 when they collapsed in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. The club’s new generation made the playoffs for the first time in 2017 but suffered a series of heartbreaks that continued on Saturday night.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 14, 2022.

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