The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After the city of Toronto was as confident as we’ve seen in a while heading into the postseason, Tuesday night’s defeat was indeed a wake-up call as the Lightning showed just how good they can truly be. Despite this loss being as harsh as one could imagine for Leafs Nation, it is still only Game 1.
In the opening period, the Tampa Bay Lightning came out strong right off the opening face-off. Only 1:18 into the first period of the series, Lightning veteran forward Pierre-Édouard Bellemare buried a loose puck making it 1-0 Tampa early. After the Lightning’s shocking early goal, they didn’t stop there as forward Anthony Cirelli scored the Bolts second of the game around six minutes later. Just when it looked like the Maple Leafs were finally settling into this one, Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored his first of the playoffs on the power play with barely any time remaining in the first. The Lightning went into the first intermission up by three stunning Scotiabank Arena and Leafs fans around the world.
The second period of Game 1 was certainly the best period for the Leafs in this one. Although it wasn’t perfect by any means, especially midway through, the blue and white certainly showed signs of a comeback. After Leafs Ryan O’Reilly and teammate William Nylander both scored power-play goals, the score was now 3-2. However, the comeback didn’t last too long after penalty trouble put the Leafs out of reach in this one. After William Nylander’s goal, the Lightning scored three unanswered to end the middle frame. Tampa Bay star Brayden Point scored twice, and his teammate Corey Perry scored the other. The Lightning went into the second intermission up 6-2.
As the third period got underway, 24-year-old Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll replaced his goaltending partner Ilya Samsonov. After giving up six goals on twenty-nine shots, Ilya Samsonov watched the rest of Game 1 from the bench. Despite trailing 6-2 late in this one, the Toronto Maple Leafs started to look a lot better than what we saw to end the second period. However, almost seven minutes into the period, Lightning forward Ross Colton added a seventh goal for Tampa Bay. Once the score was 7-2, the fans that were still in Scotiabank Arena began heading for the exits. Before the final horn could go, Leafs forward Calle Järnkrok scored. The 31-year-old’s goal was assisted by Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews as Järnkrok filled in for Bunting on the Leafs top line. Once the score was 7-3 in favor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, both sides played out the remainder of the clock leading to a Lightning win in impressive fashion.
Last night was certainly a stinker from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but don’t start panicking just yet. This series was never going to be a short one. The Lightning are a strong opponent and surely will push the Maple Leafs to be at their absolute best. It’s important to note that Leafs forward Michael Bunting will likely be getting a suspension, which should be monitored as we approach Game 2. I’d expect Ilya Samsonov to get a redemption shot on Thursday, hopefully backstopping the blue and white to a home victory.
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