TORONTO (AP) — Nick Paul scored two goals, including an astonishing personal effort to equalize in the second half of the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7 on Saturday night to win the first round. playoff series.
Andrei Vasilevskiy blocked 30 shots to defend the two-time Stanley Cup champion.
Morgan Rilly has scored from Toronto, who haven’t reached the second round since 2004, and has lost 0-9 in elimination games over the last five postseason after a 4-3 loss in Game 6 in Tampa, Florida two days ago. Jack Campbell had 23 saves.
Maple Leafs once again pushed the long, ugly narrative of the franchise’s playoff failures, which has now lost the last seven series, including six over the past six years, and is finally irreversible.
Toronto are currently at home 7-3 at home, including a loss at the Scotiabank Arena after beating a series 3-1 lead against the Montreal Canadians last season.
The Maple Leafs, who lost 1-0 after 20 minutes of the game, appeared to be tied in the second 11:28 when John Tavares fired a shot at Vasilevskiy, but the goal was lost when Toronto defender Justin Holl whistled to get in the way. has been .
Campbell had to desperately stop a couple of times from the ensuing penalty kill to set the stage for Rielly’s equalizer in the setting of Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. frenzy.
The goal was the first surrender by Vasilevskiy and Lightning in their last six series-determining game.
William Nylander missed a high chance on the breakaway and Tampa keeper robbed Matthews with the hum of the Maple Leafs.
But Paul scored the second goal of the night and the second in playoff history with 3:28 minutes left of the period in a great play of kicking the puck with a stick on skates.
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Tampa made it almost 3-1 in the second half when Kucherov hit the goal post from the slot.
Vasilevskiy was besieged throughout the Toronto Power Play in 3 minutes and 3 seconds, but despite fierce pressure, they cornered the home team.
As the clock ticked, Toronto continued to press the inside of the skating rink, filled with anxiety and tension.
However, the Maple Leafs didn’t find a way for the additional skater to take Campbell on the bench to complete another chapter of their playoff disappointment.
Both teams had great opportunities for early breakthroughs, but Vasilevskiy and Campbell were on every turn.
Tavares nearly scored a great opportunity for Vasilevskiy to shoot a left pad before the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner turned down Marner. Campbell then held a fortress in Lightning Power Play with some cool looks for visitors.
Braden Point, who scored the winner in Tampa’s Game 6 victory to extend the series, fell on ice in the bottom of the first inning and injured his right leg under it. The forward tried to return for the second period, painfully following the tunnel into the locker room, but was blocked after a short shift.
The Lightning climbed 10 minutes after the point collapsed as Paul scored the first goal, after having several chances with a leading team in Game 5 before Toronto roared. Campbell blocked a one-time shot from Ross Colton in a rush that nicked Rielly’s stick, but the rebound fell for Paul at 1:36 as Toronto conceded their first goal in four games.
The Lightning played in Game 7 for the second time since the 2020 playoffs began after they defeated the New York Islanders 1-0 at home in the semifinals in June.
This was Toronto’s first 7 game with fans since Joe Nieuwendyk scored two goals to oust Ottawa Senator in 2004.