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Maple Leafs take Game 5 with 4-3 win over Lightning

The Lightning started the game with two shots early but couldn't hold on as the clock struck zero.

TAMPA, Fla. — This has been a weird series, right?

Game 5 started off in the Lightning Bolts' favor with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman scoring in the first period to put Tampa Bay up 2-0. 

The Bolts held on during the second period, allowing one Toronto goal, but the ice got slippery toward the end of the third period. The Maple Leafs scored three goals during the third period to secure the Game 5 win. 

The teams will meet again in Game 6 on Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Besides Game 3 where the Tampa Bay Lightning made a late-game push, the Maple Leafs and Bolts have equally dominated and struggled.

"It is a little perplexing they have been one-sided the way they are," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said.

In all four matchups, the winning team has entered the third period with, at least, a two-goal lead. Also, the losing team has not scored a first period goal.

In each contest, the squad who has started with more urgency and pace has won the game. The script has yet to be flipped. When Cooper was asked why this is happening he simply answered, "I don't know."

No one knows.

No one knows why this is happening across the league, either. While we are witnessing a plethora of series' tied at two games apiece, we're not seeing many games go down to the wire.

There is a thought that could change during the final stretch here.

"We're getting to a point in the series where both teams know what to expect, it's just a matter of going out there and executing," Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said.

Keefe called the trip to Tampa a success. When Toronto came to Florida for Game 3, this was a 5-game series with three matchups inside AMALIE Arena.

Now this is a 3-game series with, maybe, two games left in Canada.

Grabbing another road win will not phase the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. This is a group, for some reason, working at its best when they fell the walls caving closer. It's why they've won a NHL record 17 straight games after a loss in the postseason.

That record, whenever it is done, seems unlikely to get beat.

"This group has proven it knows what it takes to win at this time of the year and we know how to respond," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We've done that twice now, let's go out there and take the series lead. That's got to be the mentality."

Here are the three things you need to know entering Game 5:

1. When a series is tied 2-2, historically, the winner of Game 5 takes the matchup 79 percent of the time.

2. Toronto goalie Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up five goals. How is his confidence entering the pivotal matchup?

3. As well as Game 4 went, the Lightning went 1-of-8 on the power play. With the series engulfed by penalties, they can ill-afford to have those sort of struggles the rest of the way.

Also, shout out to Victor Hedman who was named as a Norris Trophy award finalist for the sixth consecutive season. He recorded career highs and ranked among the top three NHL defensemen in goals (3rd, 20), assists (2nd, 65) and points (3rd, 85). 

Game blog

3rd period

⚡ Lightning 3 | 🍁 Maple Leafs 4

13:54 Auston Matthews scores, assisted my Bunting and Marner

8:18 Ryan McDonagh scores, unassisted

4:14 William Nylander scores for Maple Leafs, assisted by Mikheyev and Holl

3:01 Morgan Rielly scores for Maple Leafs, assisted by Tavares and Girodano

2nd period

⚡ Lightning 2 | 🍁 Maple Leafs 1

3:35 John Tavare scores for Maple Leafs, assisted by Nylander and Giordano 

1st period

⚡ Lightning 2 | 🍁 Maple Leafs 0

6:11 Victor Hedman scores, assisted by Kucherov and Killorn

5:19 Steven Stamkos scores, assisted by Palat and Kucherov