Campbell makes 32 saves, Maple Leafs beat Lightning to take collection lead

TAMPA, Fla. — Nikita Kucherov put the puck on a tee for Steven Stamkos in a spot the place the Lightning captain has made a residing all through his banner 14-year profession.

Almost everybody inside Amalie Enviornment thought the one-timer off the slick cross-ice cross would discover the again of the web — together with Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe — and tie the rating with underneath seven minutes left in regulation.

“There was a bit of a sense on the bench that it was going in,” he stated. “Stamkos doesn’t miss those very much.”

Jack Campbell had different plans.

Toronto’s goaltender made that essential cease on a late Tampa Bay man benefit as a part of a 32-save efficiency after his teammates received to Andrei Vasilevsky early because the Leafs defeated the Lightning 5-2 on Friday to take a 2-1 lead of their first-round playoff collection.

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David Kampf scored the winner, whereas Morgan Rielly, Colin Blackwell and Ilya Mikheyev, twice into the empty internet, had the opposite targets for Toronto, which wrestled again home-ice benefit within the best-of-seven matchup. Pierre Engvall added three assists.

The Leafs jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside the primary 10 minutes and led by three lower than six minutes into the second interval earlier than the Lightning lastly responded.

Toronto bent — Keefe referred to as a timeout after Tampa made it 3-2 within the third with loads of clock left to run — however soaked up the stress on the again of Campbell’s stellar play.

“We stuck with it,” Leafs centre Auston Matthews stated. “Getting out to a lead early really benefited us. Soup made some unbelievable saves.

“All throughout our lineup guys stepped up when they had to and made plays when they had their push, when they got their momentum — taking a deep breath, fighting the panic.”

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Ondrej Palat, with a objective and an help, and Ross Colton replied for Tampa. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 photographs for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

“It’s pretty upsetting,” Colton stated. “We got here out flat. We are able to’t look forward to them to go up a pair targets for us to flip the change.

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“We’ve got to come to the rink with a little bit more urgency.”

Recreation 4 goes Sunday evening again at Amalie Enviornment earlier than the collection returns to Toronto for Recreation 5 on Tuesday. Recreation 6, if needed, could be in Tampa on Thursday.

The Leafs are actually 13-0-0 when Kampf scores, together with twice within the playoffs after he buried one other whereas short-handed in Recreation 1.

Knowledgeable of that stat, the Czech centre — a stabilizer in Toronto’s bottom-6 ahead group since signing in free company final summer season — flashed a smile.

“That’s awesome,” he stated. “I didn’t know that … hopefully it will (keep) going.”

Campbell, in the meantime, has now outduelled Vasilevskiy — the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner — in two of three video games after Toronto took Monday’s opener 5-0 earlier than Tampa responded with a 5-3 win at Scotiabank Enviornment two nights later.

“(Vasilevskiy) has shown how good he is over the course of his NHL career,” Campbell stated. “It’s a fun challenge. I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to do my best to beat him.”

After the groups mixed for a parade to the penalty field and 22 energy performs by way of the primary two contests, Toronto linked on an early man benefit when Tampa winger Pat Maroon was whistled for delay of recreation.

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Following a few beauty, Matthews and Mitch Marner each had photographs blocked in fast succession, however the puck discovered its solution to Rielly at 4:54 off Michael Bunting’s skate for him to fireplace previous Vasilevskiy.

“It’s a tough rink, the fans are into it,” Campbell stated. “Their team always come out buzzing. I thought we did a great job of having a strong start tonight, especially after Game 2.”

The Leafs then killed off a Lightning energy play after which raced the opposite method on a 3-on-1 break after the penalty expired, with Ilya Lyubushkin — who got here out of the field — delaying earlier than feeding Blackwell to bury it right into a wide-open internet at 9:44 for the primary playoff objective of his profession.

“We’ve seen it a few times,” Matthews stated of the cross from Lyubushkin, who’s identified extra for his play on the different finish of the rink. “When he needs to make plays like that he can make them. That was a beautiful pass.

“Caught us a little by surprise.”

Followers in Tampa, very like their Toronto counterparts in Video games 1 and a pair of, voiced robust displeasure on the officers later within the interval following one other Lightning penalty, with chants of “Ref you suck!” echoing across the sold-out constructing.

The Leafs, who want to win their first playoff collection since 2004, had a 5-on-3 energy play for 25 seconds early within the second that the house facet killed off, however Kampf made it 3-0 with an unassisted effort at 5:52 off a turnover within the impartial zone.

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“That’s what the playoffs are all about,” Matthews stated. “There’s always guys that elevate their game and come through at certain times.

“Getting those two goals from Blackwell and Kamper were huge.”

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Colton received the Lightning on the board at 11:03 on an influence play when he blasted a one-timer up excessive on Campbell. The Tampa ahead had a fantastic likelihood to make it 3-2 a bit of later within the interval, solely to hit the publish with the Leafs netminder at his mercy.

Toronto had a golden alternative to revive its three-goal lead 5 minutes into the third, however Vasilevskiy stopped Matthews on a break and the 60-goal man’s rebound effort.

Palat made it 3-2 moments later at 5:43 when he wristed a shot over Campbell’s shoulder, prompting Keefe to take his timeout.

“Just to relax,” he stated of his message to the crew. “It’s a combination of allowing me to talk to our team and settle down. It’s also just a little bit of an attempt to kill some momentum.

“We needed to just recognize that we were fine, that these are the games we need to win.”

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Tampa received its third energy play of the evening with 7:46 left in regulation when Jake Muzzin went off for hooking to arrange Campbell’s huge cease on Stamkos.

“Sometimes the quality of players Tampa has are going to make great plays,” he stated. “They made a great play there.

“Fortunately it stayed out.”

Campbell held the fort from there till Mikheyev scored the primary two playoff targets of his profession into the empty internet to safe the victory and a 2-1 lead within the collection.

“A big step,” Keefe stated. “We’re trying to be a team that wins these games. Sometimes they’re not perfect, they’re not the way you’d like it to be.

“But you need to find a way.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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