Leafs fail to end playoff series drought with Game 5 loss to Lightning

Apr 28 2023, 1:45 am

Toronto Maple Leafs fans were ready on Thursday to celebrate the playoff series victory that they’ve been waiting 19 years for, but they’re going to have to wait at least two more days.

After back-to-back overtime losses on home ice pushed the Tampa Bay Lightning to the brink of elimination, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions stayed alive with a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs in Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena, cutting Toronto’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.

Despite a late goal from Auston Matthews to cut the score to 3-2, the Leafs weren’t able to pull off a miracle in the third period for the third straight game.

Michael Eyssimont, inserted into the Tampa Bay lineup for the first time since Game 1, gave the Lightning a lead it wouldn’t relinquish when he blew by Justin Holl and beat goaltender Ilya Samsonov along the ice from a tight angle in the second period.


Nick Paul scored a key insurance goal that ended up being the game-winner for Tampa Bay with just over eight minutes remaining.

Alex Killorn added a empty net goal in the closing seconds to finalize the score.

Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly blew the roof off the arena when he opened the scoring with his third goal of the series for the home team less than six minutes into the first period.

Leafs fans didn’t get to savour the early lead for long, though. Anthony Cirelli jammed home a loose puck around the Toronto net just 25 seconds after Rielly’s goal to even the score.

The Leafs started the third period with a chance to tie the game on the power play after Pat Maroon was sent off for roughing when he hit Mark Giordano into the boards in the final seconds of the second period.

Giordano was not on the the Leafs’ bench to start the third period, but did end up returning to the game.

The Maple Leafs failed to score on the power play. Just a few minutes later, they got another big chance to tie the game up when Mitch Marner got a breakaway, but he was turned aside by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Dating back to 2013, this was the Leafs’ 11th consecutive loss in playoff games where they’ve had a chance to win a series.

The Maple Leafs will try again to punch their ticket to that elusive second round of the playoffs when the series moves back to Tampa for Game 6 on Saturday. The start time has yet to be announced.

Jack WeberJack Weber

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