Leafs take series stranglehold after epic OT comeback win in Tampa

Apr 25 2023, 2:41 am

Against all odds, the Maple Leafs are on the verge of vanquishing their first round demons.

Alexander Kerfoot scored the overtime winner for Toronto, who overcame a 4-1 third period deficit to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4.

Toronto now has a chance to advance past the first round for the first time since 2004, and they’ll get that chance to do so on home ice.

Game 5 will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday, April 27 at 7 pm ET.

With a little more than 10 minutes to go in the third period, Tampa Bay looked like they were well on their way to tying this series 2-2.

Then, Auston Matthews came up clutch, scoring two goals in just 2:45 to cut Tampa’s lead down to one.

Matthews has been one of the best skaters in this series. He is on an eight-game playoff point streak dating back to last postseason.

In this series, he now has three goals and seven points in four games.

Mitch Marner was also brilliant, and he added another two assists. He leads all Maple Leafs with 10 points in four games.

Morgan Rielly also continued his heroics after scoring the overtime winner in Game 3. With less than four minutes to go in the third period, Rielly fired home the game-tying goal.

It was all Toronto during a short overtime session, as they outshot Tampa 6-1. Lightning defenceman Mikhail Sergachev took a tripping penalty less than three minutes into overtime, and Kerfoot tipped home the game winner just 4:14 into the extra frame.

The Maple Leafs epic comeback overshadowed a horrid start. They trailed 2-0 after the first period, and were out-chanced 16-3 by the Lightning at even-strength.

Alex Killorn scored the opening goal for Tampa, and added his second of the game with 1:11 to go in the second period.

At that point, it was 4-1 Lightning.

By the end of the night, “It was 4-1” was trending on Twitter.

And of course, there was pandemonium on the streets of Toronto following their crazy comeback.

It’s impressive to come back from a 4-1 deficit in the playoffs against any opponent.

But the fact that the Leafs did this against Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning is even more impressive.

Vasilevskiy has been one of the best playoff goaltenders in NHL history. He recently had a streak where he won a remarkable 17 straight games following a playoff loss, which was finally busted during last season’s Conference Finals.

However, Vasilevskiy has now lost consecutive games in each of the last three series he’s played in.

  • 2022 Eastern Conference Finals versus the New York Rangers (lost games 1 and 2)
  • 2022 Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche (lost games 1 and 2)
  • 2023 First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs (lost games 3 and 4)

Vasilevskiy hasn’t lost three straight playoff games since the Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2019.

If the Leafs can force Vasilevskiy into a third straight loss, they’ll vanquish their first round demons and advance to the second round for the first time in 18 seasons.

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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