Even trailing the Lightning by three goals, Auston Matthews and his Maple Leafs teammates never gave up hope
MISE À DAY
TAMPA | Is it the acquisitions of Ryan O'Reilly, Noel Acciari and Jake McCabe, veterans known for never giving up, or is it just a sign of a team that has matured? < /p>
Still, the Maple Leafs have just come back up the slope twice rather than once. Which would have seemed unlikely in recent years.
“Even though we were down by three goals, we stayed focused. We repeated to ourselves that we had to fight at each presence. We kept doing it and we found a way to win,” explained Auston Matthews, the initiator of this comeback, with a double.
Besides, the Leafs pushed the audacity to close a three-goal deficit in the space of 6 mins 20s.
“On the bench, we kept saying to the guys: 'Another goal and it's going to change the look of the game. Another goal and it will change the look of the game,” said Sheldon Keefe.
The Leafs head coach was right. The momentum has slowly but surely shifted towards his troops. So much so that, in overtime, they dictated the tempo.
“In overtime, we went into attack mode. We got a punishment (Mikhail Sergachev's on William Nylander) because we kept attacking,” Keefe argued.
Too comfortable, too fast
In the Lightning locker room, the mines were pretty long. With luck and probably better management of their leads, the Floridians would travel to Toronto with the possibility of eliminating the Maple Leafs for a second straight spring.
“It is shocking. I think we sat a little too much on our lead. We strayed from what we were doing well during the first two periods ”, analyzed Anthony Cirelli.
A little further in the room, Alex Killorn came to the same conclusion .
“We got a little too comfortable. They're a good team, so their big players took advantage of it,” said the author of two goals.
The hardest part is yet to come
The Leafs will therefore go home with the possibility of advancing to the second round. A moment that fans of the team have been waiting for since 2004. There is likely to be a lot of atmosphere in downtown Toronto around the Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
Except in the Toronto camp, we are well aware that the Lightning will fight until the last second for its survival.
“The most difficult game is coming. With everything this group has accomplished over the past few years, the Lightning will not be easy prey,” Matthews acknowledged.