Leafs win first playoff series in 19 years with wild OT victory

Apr 30 2023, 2:06 am

They’re partying like it’s 2004 in Toronto tonight.

The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped the NHL’s longest active playoff series win drought with a 2-1 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday, winning the best-of-seven-series 4-2 with an overtime goal from John Tavares.

All three of the games played in Tampa in this series were won by the Leafs in overtime.

Auston Matthews’ fifth goal of the series broke the scoreless tie with just over six minutes remaining in the second period.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos pounced on a rebound to even the score just over four minutes into the third period, setting the stage for overtime.

Tampa Bay outshot Toronto 32-22 on the night, but goaltender Ilya Samsonov turned in a strong 31-save performance for the Leafs.

The Maple Leafs slayed a few dragons tonight. In the 19 years in between series victories, they had last seven consecutive series, as well as 11 consecutive playoff games where they’d had a chance to close out a series. All of those streaks finally came to an end on Saturday.

Matthews reflected on the first series victory of his career afterwards and made it clear the Leafs aren’t satisfied yet.

The Leafs’ second-round opponent — yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ second-round opponent — will be the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. They will have home-ice advantage if they play for the Panthers. If it’s the Bruins, they’ll have a chance to slay another dragon, as Boston handed Toronto three of those Game 7 losses during the drought.

Jack WeberJack Weber

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