In their first playoff game at Amalie Arena since raising the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t overcome a sluggish start and dropped Game Three to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2, before a sold-out home crowd. Toronto built a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Morgan Reilly and Colin Blackwell. David Kampf made it 3-0 early in the second before Ross Colton connected on a power play goal midway through the period. Ondrej Palat cut the Toronto lead to one in the the third before Ilya Mikheyev salted the game away with two empty net goals late.
As it has been so far in this series, special teams play was the catalyst for the early lead for Toronto. With Pat Maroon in the penalty box on a delay of game penalty, the Leafs power play, which was held off the board in Game Two, struck early. They swarmed the Lightning defenders and Morgan Reilly was in the right spot to put home a puck that bounced off a player in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Morgan Reilly (Michael Bunting, Mitch Marner) Power Play - 1-0 Maple Leafs
Toronto doubled their lead right after a Lightning power play expired. It wasn’t technically a shorthanded goal, but it was pretty close. The Lightning players were caught low in the zone which led to a 3-on-1 break the other way when Ilya Lybushkin exicted the penalty box. Mikhail Sergachev forced a pass by Lybushkin while Nick Paul covered Pierre Engvall who was heading to the far post. Unfortunately for the Lightning Colin Blackwell was left open and deposited the puck into the vacant net.
Colin Blackwell (Ilya Lybushkin, Pierre Engvall) 2-0 Maple Leafs
At 5v5 in the period the Lightning had respectable numbers, as they garnered all 6 high danger chances and posted a 59.83 xGF%. Despite the numbers it seemed like they were chasing the game quite a bit.
They stepped their game up in the middle frame, but found themselves chasing a 3-0 deficit after a bad pass just outside of the Leafs zone by Brandon Hagel led to another odd-man rush. David Kampf waited for a screen from Zach Bogosian and sniped it past Vasilevskiy.
David Kampf (unassisted) 3-0 Maple Leafs
The Lightning did manage to solve Jack Campbell midway through the period when Mikhail Sergachev fed a one-timer to Ross Colton who roofed it on the short side for the power play goal. The play started in the neutral zone when Ondrej Palat’s hit caused a turnover.
Ross Colton (Mikhail Sergachev, Ondrej Palat) Power Play, 3-1 Maple Leafs
Palat would cut it the Toronto lead to just one goal with plenty of time left in the third period as he snapped home a wrist shot from the top left circle on a bit of a broken play.
Ondrej Palat (Alex Killorn, Ryan McDonagh) 3-2 Maple Leafs
The Lightning kept the pressure on throughout the entire period but couldn’t get another past Campbell who finished the period with 13 saves and the game with 32. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves in the losing effort. Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev combined for two empty net goals in the final minutes to make the score a little more lopsided than it should have been.
With the loss, the Lightning surrender home-ice advantage back to the Maple Leafs. Game Four will be at Amalie Arena on Sunday.