KOSHAN: Leafs’ valiant third-period effort not sufficient, fall in Game 7 to Lightning

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There’s no disgrace in shedding to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion.

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For the Maple Leafs, nonetheless, the ache that hit arduous late Saturday night time at Scotiabank Area will linger for a very long time.

The Leafs didn’t take one shift as a right and left every little thing on the ice, because the saying goes, but it surely was not sufficient to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 in a 2-1 loss.

In the long run, the experiences gained by the Lightning in successful back-to-back Cups was better than the first-round losses the Leafs have endured previously 5 years. It’s six years in a row now that the Leafs haven’t superior to the second spherical.

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Whereas Tampa wanted goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make giant saves at instances, the Lightning didn’t flinch after taking place 3-2 within the sequence, successful the ultimate two video games.

The Leafs had 17 pictures on Vasilevskiy within the third interval and didn’t rating on any of them. That gained’t go away for some time, both.

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“It’s a game of inches,” Auston Matthews mentioned. “It’s really frustrating, really disappointing. Every guy in there competed and gave it their all. Ultimately, they made one more play than us.

“It’s the back-to-back Cup champions and it’s a team that has been through a lot. They’ve been through a lot of heartbreak, and they have climbed their way to the top two years in a row. We’re right there.”

This was Tampa coach Jon Cooper within the morning: “We’re not surprised how good they are. They have been knocking at the door for so long. I think they have grown as a group, I think their stars are stars. They have a really good team game and the coach does a hell of a job preparing them. The Leafs have a hell of a team.” … We don’t think about that sentiment would have modified a lot after the sport, and Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe had this remark: “We got a lot of respect in that (handshake) line from their team, which was nice to see. It was a much different tone of respect on the other side from what we have experienced previously. We’re earning respect in the league, but we’re not in the respect game. We’re in the winning game and we have to find a way to do that.” … Already giving Leafs Nation nightmares, Nick Paul almost made it worse when he crashed into Jack Campbell 4 minutes into the third. Campbell bought up favouring his left leg, however after some anxious moments, remained within the sport … The Leafs had six pictures on aim as Ondrej Palat served a hooking minor, which got here at 6:19 of the third, however the No. 1 energy play within the common season couldn’t get the puck previous Vasilevskiy … John Tavares scored one in every of his prettier objectives in current reminiscence at 8:32 of the second when he circled across the web, and a jumble of gamers, to snap the puck previous Vasilevskiy. Nonetheless, reasonably than the sport being tied 1-1, the aim was not allowed as Justin Holl was referred to as for interference on Anthony Cirelli. As arduous because the sequence may need been for the Leafs to swallow, the decision on Holl couldn’t be averted. He threw a decide on Cirelli, and if not for that, Tavares won’t have escaped the verify of Cirelli. “I haven’t really seen it,” Tavares mentioned. “I saw it quickly on the bench. It’s hard for me to comment. (Holl) told me he is just trying to take his own space. One of those that can probably go either way.” … The Leafs not solely killed the penalty off, they didn’t let it impression their want. At 13:25, Morgan Rielly took a cross from Matthews and ripped a shot previous Vasilevskiy to get the tie the Leafs thought that they had 5 minutes earlier … Paul scored his second of the sport at 16:32 of the second when he managed to get the higher of TJ Brodie on a one-on-one and beat Campbell to the far aspect. “This is where heroes are made,” veteran Corey Perry mentioned of Game 7s basically. “It might not be the big guy. It might be somebody that you’ve never heard of doing something that takes us to the next level.” We’ve heard of Paul, after all, however as Perry mentioned, it was not the large man doing it for Tampa … Not like final yr, when the Leafs misplaced Game 7 in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens, and within the 2020 bubble when the Leafs misplaced a deciding Game 5 in opposition to the Columbus Blue Jackets, there was no trepidation on the a part of Toronto to begin the sport … The Leafs have been on level from the opening faceoff, taking cost on the primary a number of shifts. Pierre Engvall and Marner had early possibilities … Brayden Level was in clear ache as he hobbled on to the dressing room at 17:11 of the primary after he fell awkwardly into the aspect boards. Level was favouring his proper leg, and although it didn’t look good for the Tampa ahead, he returned for the second interval. Level was on the ice for one shift and slammed his stick on the ice in frustration as he made his method again to the bench. He didn’t play once more, however stayed on the bench for the rest of the sport … The Lightning bought on the board at 18:24 of the primary interval when Paul scored on a Ross Colton rebound.

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