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Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick & Prediction MAY 12TH 2022

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Logo Toronto Maple Leafs
Logo Tampa Bay Lightning

6.5o -120
1.5 -333



The Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance to win a first-round playoff series for the first time since 2004 Thursday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 6.

Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 4-3 on Tuesday night at home to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

They have lost in the opening round of the playoffs in their five previous tries, as well as in the 2020 qualifying round. Last season, Toronto even led the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in a first-round series before falling.

Toronto changed the series script Tuesday. In the previous four games, the team that scored first won.

This time, Toronto fell behind 2-0 in the first but came back to take a 3-2 lead in the third period when they scored twice with the teams playing 4-on-4.

Tampa Bay tied the game, but Toronto took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to get the winning goal from Auston Matthews at 13:54.

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe knows finishing off a series is not easy, especially against a team that has won the Stanley Cup the past two years.

"No matter who you're playing, when you're trying to win a series, finishing it off is the hardest thing to do," Keefe said. "When you're playing against the back-to-back champs, who know nothing but winning here for the last couple of years, it's even harder."

The Lightning have been hurt by mistakes.

"We're not really making (Toronto) earn it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We're kind of giving it to them. We had a power play, then take a penalty and give up two goals 4-on-4.

"We lost that special teams battle again. Too many mistakes and again they end up in the back of our net. So, it's unfortunate, because that game was there for the taking for us, and we let it slip through our fingers, and that's on us."

Tampa Bay is not short on confidence as Thursday's game approaches.

"We're going to regroup here," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who scored the first goal on Tuesday. "We knew it was going to be a tough series. Those guys are good over there. But we have a group that has responded well to these types of situations for a long period of time, so we know what to expect heading home."

The Maple Leafs gave credit to veteran center Jason Spezza, who played just under six minutes, for inspiring them after a poor first period.

"Spezz got everybody in the room and said some stuff," Matthews said. "The main message was that that was not our best period and we've got to get back out there and compete."

Said Keefe: "That's not an uncommon thing. That's one of the intangibles (Spezza) brings. It's the same thing (he does) in the regular season. Well-timed."

Goaltender Jack Campbell also was a big factor in the victory. He was yanked from Game 4 after allowing five goals but on Tuesday night, he made 32 saves, including a stop on Nicholas Paul's second-period breakaway.

"He just looked like a veteran goalie," Keefe said. "And that's what you're looking for."

The Lightning know what is required.

"It's a 60-minute game, right?" Stamkos said. "So, in order to win at this time of year, you have to play a full game. Unfortunately, we didn't. We played a hell of a first 15 minutes (of) the first period, and we just couldn't replicate that for the rest of the game."

--Field Level Media

Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

John Tavares scored two goals, and the Toronto Maple Leafs hung on for a 4-3 road win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

The defeat could be a particularly costly one for the Lightning, since captain Steven Stamkos left the game late in the second period due to an undisclosed injury.

The Lightning outshot the Leafs by a 14-3 margin in the final frame, but Yanni Gourde collected Tampa Bay's only goal of the lopsided period. Thirteen of Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen's 26 saves came in the third period as Andersen earned his 26th win of the season.

Toronto entered the game with a 2-4-0 mark over its past six games but solidified its hold on third place in the Atlantic Division.

The Lightning saw their franchise-record, 11-game home winning streak end.

Tampa Bay has now absorbed three consecutive regulation losses for the first time this season. The Lightning have surrendered 16 goals over those three games, and opponents have scored eight goals on their past 22 power-play chances against Tampa Bay's penalty killing unit.

Stamkos assisted on the game's opening score, as Nikita Kucherov recorded his 30th goal of the season 9:46 into the first period. Kucherov now has a 17-game points streak, with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) over that stretch.

Jake Muzzin responded with the equalizer at the 12:48 mark, and Tavares put Toronto ahead with a power-play marker at 16:42.

The second period was almost a replay of the first, as an opening goal from the Lightning (off the stick of Pat Maroon) was followed up by two Maple Leafs scores.

A Tavares backhander restored Toronto's lead just 31 seconds after Maroon's score, and William Nylander added an insurance goal with a spectacular power-play effort at 14:21. Nylander took a pass in front of the net, then turned while shooting the puck between his legs for his 28th goal of the season.

Muzzin missed the third period due to a hand injury.

Nylander had a goal and an assist while Tyson Barrie had two assists for Toronto. Kevin Shattenkirk had two assists for the Lightning.

Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 of 23 shots.

--Field Level Media

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