The Lightning backed against the wall

The Lightning backed into the wall


TAMPA | Have the Maple Leafs developed a survival instinct that we haven't seen in ages? For the second time in as many games at Amalie Arena, the Toronto team took advantage of the third period to recover from a deficit and force an overtime period.

And for the second time in three days, she left the amphitheater with one more victory on her record. Alex Kerfoot took over from Morgan Rielly as the Leafs hero. 

On the power play, the forward deflected a Mark Giordano shot to give his team a 5-4 win.  

“Scoring an overtime goal in the playoffs is a lifelong dream,” Kerfoot said afterwards.

This time the climb was a little steeper than Saturday night's simple one-goal gap. Sheldon Keefe's squad trailed 4-1 when Auston Matthews started the Leafs' comeback midway through the engagement.

The Leafs star beat Andrei Vasilevskiy again less three minutes later before Rielly sent everyone into overtime.

“We scored four goals. That's supposed to be enough to win, Jon Cooper argued after the game. But we also have to be able to defend and keep the puck out of our net. »

Improbable return

This sudden return was somewhat surprising considering that the Lightning had largely dominated the first two engagements.

“Throughout the year, we kept telling ourselves that we had to believe this team was capable of achieving completely crazy things, that we had to never stop pushing, regardless of the score,” said Mitch Marner, in a heated locker room.

Previously, it was one of the players with the most seniority within the Florida team who had taken matters into his own hands. Alex Killorn, the third-most active player with the Lightning in a uniform, led the charge by scoring his first two goals of the tournament.

His first was a beautiful one; a perfect execution of the tic-tac-toe initiated by Victor Hedman and relayed by Nikita Kucherov.

The former Lac-St-Louis Lions player was everywhere on the ice. He could easily have returned to the locker room with four goals to his credit after 40 minutes of play.

Fiercely battling for a place of choice in the slot, he spent his evening ridiculing the Toronto defensemen by managing , despite tight coverage, to challenge Ilya Samsonov. After two periods, he had already had five shots, more than anyone on either side.

Case uncertain, but likely, due to the nasty fall against the ramp in game three, Brayden Point was well and truly at his post. The Lightning's leading scorer during the season contributed to the scoring by being an accomplice to Mikhail Sergachev's first goal of the series.

Nothing Guaranteed

The representatives of the Ontario capital will have the opportunity to send the Lightning on vacation on Thursday. Remember that they have not passed the first round since the spring of 2004. That said, having the possibility of eliminating their rival will not necessarily be a guarantee of success.

In three of the last four springs, they have had the opportunity to deliver the knockout blow to their opponents. Each time, they lost in seven games. In 2019, against the Bruins, in 2021, against the Canadiens, and, last year, against the same Lightning.

They also lost in the ultimate game in 2018 against the Bruins and in 2020 , against the Blue Jackets.

“The season is not over yet”, took care to launch Cooper before leaving the podium.

Nevertheless, the Lightning will practically have to hope for a miracle to turn things around. The Leafs haven't lost three in a row since suffering four straight from Oct. 24-30. In fact, it was their only streak of more than two losses in the campaign.

The Lightning, who suffered a third straight playoff loss for the first time since conceding the sweep to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 first round, are 1-9 in the last 10 playoff games that required extension.

The Lightning cornered in wall


The Lightning backed into the wall< /p>4First period 1-TB: Alex Killorn (1)(Kucherov, Hedman)AN-9:57
2-TB: Mikhail Sergachev (1)(Kucherov, Point)18:27Penalties: Cirelli (TB) 6:58, Nylander (Tor) 9:24 Second period3-Tor: Noel Acciari (2)(Holl, OReilly)4:51
4-TB: Steven Stamkos (1)(Hedman, Perbix)11:31
5-TB: Alex Killorn (2)(Hagel, Sergachev)18:49Penalties: Hedman (TB) 8:39, Tavares (Tor) 13:29, Brodie (Tor) 19:17, Sergachev (TB) 19:17, McCabe (Tor) 20:00 Third period6-Tor: Auston Matthews (2)( Marner, Nylander)9:44
7-Tor: Auston Matthews (3)(Nylander, Giordano)AN-12:29
8-Tor: Morgan Rielly (2)(Marner, OReilly)16:04Penalties: Bogosian (TB) 11:16 OT9-Tor: Alexander Kerfoot (1)(Giordano, Nylander)AN-4:14Penalties: Sergachev (TB) 2:28 Shots on goalToronto 5 – 14 – 12 – 6 – 37Tampa Bay 12 – 7 – 11 – 1 – 31Keepers:Tor: Ilya Samsonov (G, 3-1) TB: Andrei Vasilevskiy (P, 1-3)Numerical advantages:Tor : 2 for 4, VG: 1 for 3Referees:Chris Rooney, Graham Skilliter Linesmen:Scott Cherrey, Brandon Gawryletz ASSISTANCE:19 092