TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated Toronto Maple Leafs four to three in overtime on Thursday night at AMALIE Arena to level the series three-all.
The result of the game also ensured a Game 7 to be played in Toronto at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 14.
Bolts scored one goal in each period and in overtime, with the game-winner coming from Brayden Point.
Earlier in the game, the home side had a two-goal lead, only to Toronto score three goals to put them in the lead.
However, the Lightning responded well to get back on level terms in the third period and take the game to overtime.
Tampa Bay will hope to carry the momentum gained from Game 6 to Toronto on Sunday.
Should Tampa Bay manage to get past the Maple Leafs, then the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions will face the winner between the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals in the second round.
Winning a third straight Stanley Cup would make the Lightning only the fourth team to reach that accomplishment, along with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1947-49), the Montreal Canadiens (1956-60, 1976-79) and the New York Islands (1982-1982).
The Bolts' next game will be on Sunday, May 14 in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena with a time yet to be determined.
We've got real-time coverage of the game below in our live blog.
Brayden Point scores in overtime to give Tampa Bay the win in Game 6. Assisted by Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn.
Overtime is now underway. First team to scores wins Game 6.
End of third period and the game remains tied at 3-3. Both teams will head into sudden-death overtime.
Power play goal scored by Nikita Kucherov for the Lightning ties the game 3-3! Assisted by Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point
The third period is underway.
The 2nd period concludes and Toronto leads 3-2.
Seconds before the 2nd period comes to a close, Toronto gets a third goal to lead the game 3-2.
The Maple Leafs get their second of the game to level the score 2-2.
Toronto responds quickly and gets their first goal of the game to cut the deficit in half. Bolts are still up 2-1.
Tampa Bay doubles their lead with a shorthanded goal by Anthony Cirelli to make it 2-0.
The second period is underway and the Bolts have a minute and 32 seconds of power play time remaining.
The first period ends and the Lightning remain on top with a 1-0 lead.
Ondrej Palat scores the first goal of the game, Lightning leads 1-0!
An inside look at AMALIE Arena! The home fans are turning up the energy for the game!
The puck is dropped and Game 6 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at AMALIE Arena is underway!
The starting lineup for the Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Lightning fans are showing off their gear as they get ready for Game 6.
Bolts fans are hanging out at Ford Thunder Alley before the game.
Game Preview Below:
After a difficult 4-3 loss on Tuesday, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper felt like his team gave Game 5 away to the Maple Leafs.
"We just let it slip through our fingers. That’s on us.”
Unlike the last couple of postseason runs, it seems like the little mistakes are coming back to bite this team in the behind.
"When I say we gave the game away, I'm saying we gave Toronto opportunities to capitalize," Cooper explained. "And to Toronto's credit, they have capitalized on them. And so we're getting burned by some of the things that we're doing instead of making them earn it the hard way."
These mistakes have shown up in a myriad of ways:
In Game 1, we simply cannot address the multitude of mistakes made in that one.
In Game 3, the Lightning waited until a 3-goal deficit to play with some urgency.
In Game 5, the group played in reverse of Game 3. Jumped out to a spectacular start just to let Toronto suffocate them towards the end of the contest.
Joe Smith of The Athletic did a great article on how Andrei Vasilevskiy needs to put his Superman cape on to, probably, save Tampa Bay's season. In the past two championship years, the Bolts are 26-2 when giving up two goals or less. And while the Lightning have hung Vasy out to dry one too many times, he's been pedestrian during the first five games of this series.
According to Moneypuck.com, the Lightning have given up 18 goals while he has been in net and the expected goals against are about 17 goals. That's one of the worst performances in the playoffs by any goalie who has been between the pipes for, at least, four games.
Despite being on the brink of elimination, there continues to be no panic in the Bolts locker room. Andrei Vasilevskiy's struggles were just noted, but a 17-0 record after a playoff loss is not a bad statistic to have in your back pocket.
If there is a Game 7, we can talk about how the Lightning needs to learn how to win back-to-back games, but for right now -- they have to take care of Game 6 first. In these instances, they oddly feel comfortable.
"The series isn't over yet. So we still have life," three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon said. "We still have a lot of life. We still have a lot of hockey to be played."
The core group of Bolts was actually in this position back in 2015 when trailing the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in the 2015 opening-round series. Nikita Kucherov logged three points in Game 6's 5-2 win on the road. Then at home, the Bolts scored the first goal of the contest in the 3rd period to eventually edge Detroit 2-0 in a nailbiter. This group has played so many playoff games, they have a Rolodex of experience in these spots.
"We have a lot of positives we can draw on with this group and we've had, like we have shown in the hostile environments against good teams, winning on the road in these situations. You know, fortunately, we're at home now," Cooper said. "Again, that doesn't guarantee anything at all that you're going to win, but much rather play an elimination game at home than on the road."
As long as the Bolts stay out of the penalty box, they should do just fine tomorrow night inside AMALIE Arena. Game 5 flipped on Tampa Bay during 4-on-4 hockey. The Bolts were about to be on a power play leading 2-1 in the 3rd period until Steven Stamkos' high-sticking call 10 seconds into the man-advantage. Toronto scored two quick goals shortly thereafter.
The other thing that changed in Game 5 was Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares making an impact. The Lightning did well containing Toronto's stars for a good portion of this series, but the dam broke towards the second half of Game 5.
Either way, the Lightning will play with the utmost urgency on Thursday night, and that's going to be a scary task for Toronto in Tampa.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.