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Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Game Three preview and Game Day Thread

The Stanley Cup Playoffs return to Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Two Photo by Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Three

Time: 7:30 PM EST

Location: Amalie Arena

Broadcast/Streaming: BSSUN, TBS, TVAS, SN, CBC

Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets

After a blowout loss on Monday night in Game One, the Tampa Bay Lightning managed to bounce back and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Two, tying the series. The Lightning improved to 15-0 in games after losses over the last three postseasons (including round robin in 2020) — an incredibly impressive accomplishment on its own — and head home to Tampa Bay in a slightly better mood than after Game One.

Jon Cooper didn’t have to make big changes among the forwards in the lineup. After moving around bottom-six players in the first game, the coaching staff stuck to Killorn-Point-Cirelli and Hagel-Paul-Colton lines for Game 2. The Point line ate the most ice time at 5v5, playing a chunk of it against a Bunting-Matthews-Marner line. While Matthews’ line scored both Leafs goals at 5v5, it didn’t happen with Point’s line on the ice. We can probably expect more of Killorn-Point-Cirelli vs. Bunting-Matthews-Marner matchup in the next games.

Defensively the Lightning managed to moved the opponent little bit away from their net, while increasing the pressure around the crease on the opposite side of the rink.

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The Lightning’s power play and penalty kill was resurgent in Game Two. On the power play the Lightning scored three goals, in contrast with zero goals on five power play opportunities in Game One (including a wasted five-minute power play). The Lightning, however, allowed another shorthanded goal.

The team’s 5-on-5 performance remain as the issue. The Lightning’s top line of Palat-Stamkos-Kucherov had been buried at 5v5 in Game Two, recording just 31.25 CF% and 11.51 xGF% in almost eight minutes together. That’s not a new thing though, even in the last games of the regular season, the Lightning’s numbers at even strength were slightly negative and the team was carried by a very high shooting percentage while on the power play.

Another thing the Lightning will need in the remaining games of the series is the individual performance of some of their players. Kucherov, Hedman and Vasilevskiy stepped up in Game Two, but some other players haven’t been that productive. Steven Stamkos, after a record-breaking 33 points in 16 games in the last month of the regular season, recorded just two points in two games against Toronto. Ondrej Palat, who also had over a point-per-game pace in the last games of the regular season, hasn’t recorded any points in this year’s playoffs so far. Brayden Point is a little bit complicated case. This year was probably one of the worst in his career so far, which likely caused by his injury he sustained at the start of the season. The Lightning will definitely some of his clutching abilities later in the series.

According to reports from the Leafs’ morning practice, Toronto isn’t expecting big line changes for Game Three. The only change could the return of Jason Spezza. A 38-year-old forward hasn’t played yet in the series, but appeared on yesterday’s practice, including practicing in right circle, where he usually plays in the second power play unit. The Leafs travelled to Tampa on yesterday’s afternoon.

The Lightning return to Amalie Arena for the first time in playoffs since Game Five of last season’s Stanley Cup Final against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bolts are currently 17-9 in 26 games on home ice over the last two postseasons, outscoring their opponents 84-58 in those games.

Potential Tampa Bay Lightning Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov

Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Brayden Point

Brandon Hagel - Nick Paul - Ross Colton

Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Corey Perry

Defense

Victor Hedman - Erik Cernak

Ryan McDonagh - Cal Foote

Mikhail Sergachev - Zach Bogosian

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Potential Toronto Maple Leaf Lines

Forwards

Michael Bunting — Auston Matthews — Mitch Marner

Ilya Mikheyev — John Tavares — Alex Kerfoot

William Nylander — David Kampf — Pierre Engvall

Ondrej Kase — Colin Blackwell — Wayne Simmonds

Defense

Morgan Rielly — Ilya Lyubushkin

Jake Muzzin — T.J. Brodie

Mark Giordano — Timothy Liljegren

Goaltender

Jack Campbell

Erik Kallgren