NHL Playoffs: Toronto Maple Leafs Eliminated in Game 7

TORONTO-

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

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

Morgan Rielly answered for Toronto, which has not progressed to the second round since 2004 and is now 0-9 in games where it can knock out an opponent in the last five postseason after also losing Game 6 trailing 4-3 in the extension in Tampa two nights earlier.

Jack Campbell stopped 23 shots.

Despite their best efforts, the Leafs were again unable to push through, ultimately turning around a long, ugly story of playoff failures for a franchise that has now lost its last seven series, including six straights dating back to 2017.

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

After 20 minutes trailing 1-0 on Saturday, the Leafs appeared to even the game at 11:28 a.m. when John Tavares covered a shot at Vasilevskiy, but the goal was brushed aside after Toronto defender Justin Holl was called out for interference .

Campbell had to make some desperate stops on the ensuing penalty kill to clear the way for Rielly’s equalizing goal after a lineup of Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to score his third of the play-offs at 6:35 am to beat the crowd of 19,316 in a chaotic chaos. pleasure.

The goal was the first surrender by Vasilevskiy and the Lightning in their last six decisive games.

William Nylander then missed high on a breakaway and the Tampa goalkeeper robbed Matthews as the Leafs buzzed.

But Paul scored his second of the evening – and second ever in the playoffs – with 3:28 left in the period with a great play kicking the puck from his skate to his stick.

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

Vasilevskiy was besieged during a Leafs power play just over six minutes into the third, but kept the home side at bay despite some furious pressure.

Toronto continued to put pressure on a terrified, thrill-filled rink as the clock ticked away.

However, the Leafs just couldn’t find a way out with Campbell on the bench for an extra attack to wrap up another chapter of playoff disappointment.

Both teams had great opportunities for early breakthroughs, but Vasilevskiy and Campbell were there at every turn.

Tavares nearly blew the score on a big chance near where Vasilevskiy shot his left pad before the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner denied Marner.

Campbell then held onto the fortress with a Lightning powerplay on some great looks for the visitors.

Brayden Point, who scored the winner in Tampa’s Game 6 win to extend the series, was injured late in the first round when his right leg got trapped under him as he fell onto the ice. The winger – in agony as he walked through the tunnel to the locker room – tried to return for the second period, but put it off after a short shift.

The Lightning went up 1-0 shortly after Point went into the first downfall when Paul, who had several chances in Game 5 with his team in the lead before Toronto roared back, scored his first.

Campbell made the first stop on Ross Colton’s one-timer of the rush that chopped Rielly’s stick, but the rebound fell to Paul at 1:36 as Toronto conceded the first goal for a fourth game in a row.

The Lightning played in their second Game 7 since the start of the 2020 playoffs, after beating 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 to Montreal was played in front of 550 health workers due to COVID-19 restrictions – since 2004 when Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice to oust the Ottawa Senators.

The Leafs didn’t make the playoffs until 2013 when they collapsed in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. The new generation of the club made it to the play-offs for the first time in 2017, but suffered a series of heartaches on Saturday evening.


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

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