The Toronto Maple Leafs were trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 and the Lightning looked unbeatable. I wonder how many Maple Leafs’ fans turned their televisions off at the end of the second period. If they didn’t, they were in for a treat.
The hockey gods must be smiling on this team – at least so far. Auston Matthews put the team on his back and carried them to within one goal. Regular hero from the blue line Morgan Rielly tied the game up in regulation. Finally, Alex Kerfoot stood in front of Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and reached out to tip a shot down and into the net for the improbable come-from-behind win for a Toronto team that is now within one game of breaking the first-round series curse.
In this edition of Maple Leafs’ Takeaways, I’ll look at the game and pull a few key thoughts about what might just be a historic game.
Takeaway One: Maple Leafs Stun Lightning in Epic Comeback Win
Last night, the Maple Leafs beat the Lightning in what was an unforgettable game of hockey. The Leafs, who were down 4-1 at the end of the second period, managed to mount an incredible comeback and take home a 5-4 win in overtime. The game had to leave the Lightning players stunned and perhaps even scrambling to make sense of what had just happened to them.
The game off strong for the Lightning, who quickly outmatched the Maple Leafs. By the end of the second period, it looked as though the game was all but over. However, the Leafs simply didn’t go away. With a renewed surge of energy, they started to chip away during the third period and managed to tie the game by the end of regulation.
Takeaway Two: How Important Were Faceoff Wins to the Overtime Victory?
The Leafs continued to dominate in overtime, eventually scoring the game-winning goal just before five minutes were played. Maple Leafs’ fans witnessed one of the biggest comebacks in franchise history. I haven’t researched that point; however, I can’t imagine many three-goal come-from-behind wins starting halfway through the third period.
One of the biggest turnarounds I saw was that the Maple Leafs began to win their faceoffs. Although the box score showed the teams even with 31 faceoff wins each, to my eye the Maple Leafs won most of the key faceoffs during the final period and the overtime. That gave them the puck in their offensive zone. Finally, on another shot from the point, Kerfoot tipped it home.
Takeaway Three: What a Boost for the Maple Leafs
After the game, it was hard to tell if the Maple Leafs won this game or if the Lightning lost it. Either way, the Maple Leafs demonstrated resilience and determination. Or, did the Lightning simply implode?
Regardless of who’s to blame or credit for the win, clearly, this game will be remembered as one of the most exciting and memorable moments in Maple Leafs’ history. It also gives the team a huge boost heading into Game 5.
The team has to be extremely confident. Now the task is to win at home and put this series to bed. Can the Maple Leafs win four games in a row? If they can, it might just give them a huge boost for a really serious Stanley Cup run.
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