Lightning fail to protect three-goal lead, lose Game Four in overtime, 5-4

Lightning fail to protect three-goal lead, lose Game Four in overtime, 5-4
Tanner Jeannot. Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Lightning via their Twitter (@TBLightning)

The Tampa Bay Lightning built a 4-1 lead with less than ten minutes to go in the third period. Unfortunately, the Toronto Maple Leafs scored three times in regulation to tie it and then Alex Kerfoot tipped home the winner in overtime to give Toronto a commanding 3-1 edge in the series as it heads back north.

Alex Killorn scored twice for the Lightning while Steven Stamkos and Mikhail Sergachev also found the back of the net. Along with Kerfoot, Noel Acciari, Auston Matthews (2x) and Morgan Reilly had the tallies for Toronto.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 of 37 shots while Ilya Samsonov stopped 27 of 31. The Maples Leafs went 2-for-4 on the power play while the Lightning converted one of their three chances with the extra skater.


First Period:

The game started with one face-off in the first seven minutes of play as the Lightning picked up where they left off in Game Three with copious puck possession that didn't translate into much on net. Of their first nine shot attempts only two found the net. Toronto was able to belay the pressure a bit when Anthony Cirelli went to the box for crosschecking.

The Lightning were aggressive on the penalty kill and Brandon Hagel earned a rare penalty shot. His effort went off the pad and the Lightning were back on the kill.

They achieved their goal of not allowing a goal (although Mikhail Sergachev was hobbled by a Ryan O'Reilly shot that left Sergy crawling to the bench).

Almost immediately after the Lightning went on a power play of their own. Victor Hedman (in Sergy's place) fed Nikita Kucherov at the circle who spied Alex Killorn at the far post. The pass was perfect and the puck nestled in the back of the net. With the goal, Killorn snapped a 30-game goalless streak in the playoffs.

Alex Killorn (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman) Power Play, 1-0 Lightning

The Lightning kept the pressure going through the period. At times Toronto had to look up and think that there were 8 Lightning skaters on the ice. Passes through the neutral zone were getting knocked down, clearing passes were being picked off and Toronto had almost no possession time.

With all of the pressure the Lightning really needed to capitalize and it was Nikita Kucherov setting things up. The Lightning's point leader gathered the puck in his usual spot and spied Sergachev across the ice. Another pinpoint pass and Sergy wristed it into the net as Samsonov had tragically overplayed the puck and was out of position.

Mikhail Sergachev (Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point) 2-0 Lightning

The Leafs had a late flurry after Sergachev turned the puck over (and lost his stick) but Alex Killorn made a nice backcheck to deny a good look. The period ended with the Bolts up 2-0 on the scoreboard, and an absolutely dominating performance at 5v5 - 25 to 9 in shot attempts, 15-3 in scoring chances, 6-1 in high-danger chances.

Second Period:

The push was coming from the Leafs and the Lightning had to be ready for it. Unfortunately, they weren't quite as precise with the puck had they had been in the first. Ryan O'Reilly lifted Kucherov's stick on a clearing attempt. They were able to work the puck to the point and Justin Holl's shot was deflected home by Noel Acciari.

Noel Acciari (Justin Holl, Ryan O'Reilly) 2-1 Lightning

The Lightning came back and almost retook the two-goal lead, but Matthew Knies swept it off the line before a pile of bodies crashed into the net. The Hagel line came back and retook control with Alex Killorn almost tipping one under Samsonov's pads.

A strong defensive performance can feed the offense. Victor Hedman was sent to the box for a roughing penalty following a scrum and the Lightning penalty kill had another strong outing (Killorn with a partial breakaway) and didn't allow a shot on goal.

On the following shift Hedman slung one to the front of the net and it hit Stamkos' skate and deflected past Samsonov. Lucky break? Sure, but Stamkos and Point had both battled to the front of the net. For Stamkos, who was scoreless in the series it was the type of goal that could start a streak for him.

Steven Stamkos (Victor Hedman, Nick Perbix) 3-1 Lightning

The Leafs had a nice push to start the period and evened the ice a bit, but the Lightning didn't cave in, and they managed to increase the lead. Sergachev saw a long seam open and put the pass on the money to Hagel. A drop pass to Killorn and the Harvard Man clanked off the far post and in the goal.

Alex Killorn (Brandon Hagel, Mikhail Sergachev) 4-1 Lightning

With the teams playing 4-on-4 the Lightning had a late chance that Morgan Reilly broke up (and then blocked a shot). His reward for the efforts, watching Jake McCabe crosscheck Nick Perbix for no reason. The refs saw it and called it. The third period would start with a 4-on-3.

Third Period:

The 4-on-3 generated a few shots but no goal, the same with the ensuing 5-on-4. With that opportunity out of the way it was time for the Lightning to kill off the clock. We've been used to seeing them constrict a game in the third period when they have the lead and they were doing that early in the period.

A toe-save and a pad-save by Vasilevskiy, who has quietly had a strong game through the first two periods, was a nice start. Kucherov diving to push a puck out and Darren Raddysh blocking a shot. Brandon Hagel going into the corner with Luke Schenn and emerging with puck despite giving up 40 pounds in the battle. Those were things that make the coaching staff happy.

Still, the Leafs kept pushing and there is a lot of talent on the Maple Leafs roster Their big three were on the ice together and it paid off. William Nylander dropped a pass to Mitch Marner who quickly slid it over to Auston Matthews who bulleted it into the net.

Auston Matthews (Mitch Marner, William Nylander) 4-2 Lightning

Zach Bogosian was sent to the penalty box shortly after to ratchet up the adverse tension in the arena. After a strong start to the kill (Killorn and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare with a two-on-one) the Leafs finally got the puck in the zone and Matthews with a deft mid-air deflection from a William Nylander shot.

Auston Matthews (William Nylander, Mark Giordano) Power Play, 4-3 Lightning

The momentum was firmly with the visitors now. The Lightning were battling but the next goal still went to Toronto. A face-off win for John Tavares led to a puck battle along the boards that Mitch Marner won. The puck came to Morgan Reilly who flung it on net and Vasilevskiy, who had shaded to the far post wasn't able to knock it away. Just like that the lead was gone and there was still just under four minutes to go.

Morgan Reilly (Mitch Marner, Ryan O'Reilly) 4-4


At least they didn't draw out the pain too long. An early power play for the Leafs was created when Mikhail Sergachev tripped up William Nylander. Toronto maintained possession and eventually it was another deflection that proved to be the winner. Alex Kerfoot, in front of the net, tipped home a shot from Mark Giordano for the win.

Alex Kerfoot (Mark Giordano, William Nylander) Power Play, 5-4 Leafs