Leafs complete epic Game 3 comeback in OT to take series lead over Lightning

Apr 23 2023, 2:42 am

After evening up their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with a blowout Game 2 victory, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a series lead in much more dramatic fashion on Saturday.

With the series shifting to Tampa, the Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 4-3 in overtime in Game 3 to grab a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven, first-round playoff series.

Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly scored the winner on a long-range wrist shot that eluded Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in the final minute of the first overtime period.

With goaltender Ilya Samsonov on the bench for an extra attacker, Toronto forward Ryan O’Reilly tied the game at 3-3 with a minute remaining in the third period.

The Bolts were boosted by the return of their top defenceman, Victor Hedman. He hadn’t played since the first period of Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury.

Tampa Bay had another injury scare in this game, though. Lightning star Brayden Point briefly left the game in the third period after being awkwardly driven into the boards by Rielly.

The ensuing scrum saw a pair of superstars in Auston Matthews and Steven Stamkos square off, in what has already been a physical series.

Like they did in Game 2, the Leafs took an early 1-0 lead in this one. Noel Acciari took a pass from rookie Matthew Knies on an odd-man rush and beat Vasilevskiy from the slot just over three minutes into the game.

The Lightning got a quick response from Anthony Cirelli, who tied the game up just over a minute later.

Matthews would regain Toronto’s lead later in the opening period, redirecting a Mitch Marner shot for his first goal of the series.

Brandon Hagel tied the game back up in the final minute of the period and Darren Raddysh gave Tampa Bay its first lead of the night in second period, setting the stage for the late heroics from O’Reilly and Rielly.

This was the Maple Leafs’ first playoff overtime win since Game 4 of their 2020 Qualifying Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They had lost three straight playoff overtime games since then.

Game 4 is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT at Amalie Arena on Monday.

More to come…

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