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Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning Game Four Preview and Game Day Thread

Will the Lightning keep their winning streak after losses in playoffs?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Four

Time: 7:00 PM EST

Location: Amalie Arena

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

Opponent SBNation Site: Pension Plan Puppets

A game two victory was an inspirational boost after such a devastated loss in the opening game of the series, but unfortunately the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t keep up the momentum, dropping the first game of this year playoffs at Amalie Arena against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs took a 2-1 lead, which’s statistically leading to series victory more often, but the Bolts still showed some signs they can build on in the remaining games.

In his latest post-game press conference, Jon Cooper expressed some frustration about the team’s discipline. The Lightning are one of the most penalized teams of the playoffs, allowing Toronto to have a man advantage 15 times over the last three games. Some of them, including for example too many men on the ice penalty in the previous game, were completely unnecessary and should be avoided at this stage. It’s not something new for the Lightning though, just like a slow start issue, which has been haunting them throughout the whole regular season, forcing them into chasing position in too many games.

A third-period push, however, looked very promising. The Bolts finally looked very strong and organized at 5-on-5. Especially Killorn-Cirelli-Point line was very dominant, finishing the game with stunning 100 CF% and 100 xGF% and completely shutting down a Bunting-Matthews-Marner line. The Leafs still hold the edge in the whole series in expected goals percentage, but the difference is very small. In fact, the Bolts vs. the Leafs series is the closest series in this playoffs.

While some of the Lightning’s players emerged at 5-on-5, some of them are still struggling. Amongst them unfortunately the Lightning’s star players such as Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Out of three Kucherov points this playoffs, all of them were recorded in Game 2 and two on power play. After a game-changing performance in Game Two, he took a step back a little in Game Three. It wasn’t a luck of attitude from him — the Russian forward recorded two shots on goal in almost 20 minutes on the ice — but some of his decisions were misunderstood by his teammates. Just like his pass from behind the net to Stamkos in the final minutes of the previous game, when the Lightning’s captain wasn’t ready to handle the pass and the situation ended with an empty-netter by Toronto.

Andrei Vasilevskiy also isn’t looking very sharp this playoffs. He’s still staying above the water in terms of goals saved above expected in all situation, but his opponent Jack Campbell so far looking more convincing.

Both Kucherov and Vasilevskiy were given a day-off yesterday and hadn’t participated in the morning practice. Kucherov’s place on the top line were taken by Riley Nash, but the lines remained the same. It also look like Jan Rutta will be out for the second straight game.

Meanwhile the Leafs have shuffled their line a little bit, moving Kerfoot in place of Bunting. It’s not a surprise, given the Bunting-Matthews-Marner numbers in the previous game. Kerfoot already appeared on the top line in the previous game.

The Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy are 15-0 in games after losses over the last three seasons. The Lightning are also 4-5 after trailing 2-1 in playoffs and 19-13 in Game 4s in their franchise history.

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

Alex Kerfoot — Auston Matthews — Mitch Marner

William Nylander — John Tavares — Ondrej Kase

Ilya Mikheyev — David Kampf — Pierre Engvall

Michael Bunting — Colin Blackwell — Jason Spezza

Defense

Morgan Rielly — Ilya Lyubushkin

Jake Muzzin — T.J. Brodie

Mark Giordano — Justin Holl

Goaltender

Jack Campbell

Erik Kallgren