Last season the Tampa Bay Lightning faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs, with the series being decided in seven games. The Maple Leafs have struggled to advance out of the first round for years and have become a running joke around the league for it. The Lightning, on the other hand, has done the opposite as they won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships in 2020 and 2021 while appearing in their third straight last season in 2022, which they lost.
The Lightning have been led by one of the NHL’s best coaches in, Jon Cooper, and they returned to Toronto today for the first time since their dramatic game-seven win in the playoffs.
Tampa Bay handed the Maple Leafs its sixth consecutive first-round exit, and head coach Jon Cooper decided to bring it up in the best way possible.
According to Luke Fox of Sportsnet, Cooper went out of his way when asked about forward Nick Paul:
Jon Cooper, standing in Toronto, gets asked what Nick Paul has brought to his team.
‘’Two goals in Game 7.”
For those that remember the game, it was the 27-year-old Paul, who the Lightning acquired at last season’s Trade Deadline, that was the difference maker in the series-clinching win. Paul scored both of Tampa’s goals in the 2-1 win in game seven that broke the Toronto faithful’s hearts once again.
Both teams are once again in the playoff hunt as they occupy the second and third seeds in the Atlantic Division, setting up a potential playoff rematch if the standings stay the same. Tonight’s matchup will be a good one as the Lightning are riding a five-game win streak, and the Leafs have dropped their last two games on the road.
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