TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning scored in all three periods of the game as they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 in Game 2 on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Goals scored by Victor Hedman, Corey Perry, Nikita Kucherov, Brandon Hagel and Brayden Point propelled the visiting side to level the series.
Two quick goals in the third period provided breathing room for the Lightning as the Maple Leafs also scored two goals in the same period, but it did not affect the result of the game.
If Tampa Bay can 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).
Game 3 will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 6 at Amalie Arena.
Power play for the Leafs after Point is whistled for slashing.
A shorthanded goal from the home side scored by Alexander Kerfoot cuts the Bolts' lead to two. Assisted by T.J. Brodie.
9: 59 p.m.
Toronto goal scored by Mitchel Marner. Assisted by Jake Muzzin and Auston Matthews.
Power play goal scored by Brayden Point. Assisted by Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov.
Goal scored by Brandon Hagel to give the Bolts a four to one lead early in the third period. Assisted by Nicholas Paul and Nikita Kucherov.
The third period is underway.
⚡ Lightning 3 | 🍁 Maple Leafs 1
End of the second period and Tampa Bay will be taking a three to one lead heading into the last period of the game.
Power Play Goal Scored by Lighting Nikita Kucherov, assisted by Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman.
Maple Leafs Michael Bunting scores goal, assisted by Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner.
Goal scored by Corey Perry, assisted by Victor Hedman.
Lightning 1 | Maple Leafs 0
Power play goal scored by Victor Hedman, assisted by Alex Killorn, with two seconds left in the first period.
Bolts to the power play for the first time of the game.
Opposing player Pat Maroon is penalized for roughing.
The Bolts are penalized for having too many players on the ice.
The puck was dropped in Game 2 of Round 1 against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena!
The starters facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in game 2 are Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, Brayden Point, Mikhail Sergachev, Cal Foote and Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The Tampa Bay Lightning players arrive at Scotiabank Arena.
Lightning fans are gathering outside Amalie Arena on Ford Thunder Alley in downtown Tampa to follow Game 2 from afar. The hockey team will be hosting official Lightning Plaza Parties for games No. 3 and No. 4.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. in Toronto at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night. The game airs on Bally Sports Sun & ESPN2.
Previous coverage below:
Things will get better for the Lightning moving forward in this opening series, but first, let's address the doom and gloom of Game 1.
After watching Monday's contest between Tampa Bay and Toronto, it is clear one team was ready to raise their level of play entering the postseason while the other team acted like this was Game No. 34 of the regular season.
Unequivocally, the Tampa Bay Lightning were bullied. The two-time defending champions looked slow, complacent and uninspired.
The Lightning entered the playoffs with the eighth-best power play unit in the NHL. On top of that, the special teams unit scored in eight consecutive games. That momentum came to a screeching halt going 0-for-5 in Game 1. The worst part was squandering seven minutes, in the first half of the first period, on the man-advantage. That gave Toronto and its crowd all the juice it needed.
"The frustration was out of not scoring on the power play," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. "That's where the frustration came from and we're better than that...and we let it get the best of us."
It is tough to evaluate these two teams after 118 penalty minutes. There was very little 5-on-5 hockey. The Lightning took metaphorical and literal punches all night, though. Steven Stamkos was gashed on the chin, Ross Colton was given a cheap shot to the back and Jan Rutta had his head busted open on a punch.
Toronto's head coach Sheldon Keefe said this was going to be a 'borderline violent series' and it looks like he was right.
Luckily for the Bolts, it is just one game. The goals do not carry over into Game 2. The only issue is the Lightning allowed the Maple Leafs to have a breezy win in a series where everyone is fighting for their lives. It is tough to evaluate any of that film when one team plays so poorly.
“You've got to win four and you don't want to give teams any freebies and we probably gave them a little bit of a freebie," Cooper said. "I think it's hard to judge either team."
The Bolts were back to practice Tuesday in Toronto and you better believe they will put forth a better effort moving forward.
"We got to come out hard, physical and take over the game from the start," Bolts winger Nick Paul said. "We have to be the ones to push the pace, lay bodies and get pucks on net. Start the momentum and build off it."
The Tampa Bay Lightning have not lost back-to-back playoff games since the Columbus debacle in 2019. Also, the team is 10-8 all-time when losing Game 1 of a series. The team is also 13-5 in Game 2's after a loss, including an 8-3 record with Jon Cooper.
As ugly as it got, it is hardly a death sentence for this group.
"We're a good team that knows how to respond when we come through a loss, but again, we're playing a really good hockey team," three-time Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon said. "I'm very confident in this group, we just have to go out there, put our work hat on and get to work here now."
Puck drops in Toronto at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. The game airs on Bally Sports Sun & ESPN2.