Lightning fall in overtime to Leafs, 4-3

Lightning fall in overtime to Leafs, 4-3
Ross Colton walks into the arena wearing a big hat. Photo compliments of the Tampa Bay Lightning via their Twitter (@TBLightning)

Morgan Reilly, who had leveled Brayden Point with a big hit earlier in the game, scored with 45 seconds left in the first period of overtime to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Three of their series on Saturday night. With the victory, the Maple Leafs take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven contest.

Noel Accairi, Auston Matthes, and Ryan O'Reilly had the other goals for the Leafs while Anthony Cirelli, Brandon Hagel, and Darren Raddysh scored for the Lightning. Brayden Point had a goal waved off in the second period that would have given the Lightning a 4-2 lead at the time. Ilya Samsonov stopped 36 0f 39 shots while Andrei Vasilevskiy had 24 saves on 28 shots.


First Period:

Back on home ice and with a charged-up crowd behind them, the Lightning needed a strong start. Honestly, for the first eight minutes or so they did play rather well with the exception of the fact that they gave up a goal. Their aggressive nature of their offensive system led to a odd-skater rush after Ryan O'Reilly flipped a put out to center ice. Matthew Knies bunted it over to Noel Acciari who was given a clean look at the goal and sniped it home for the lead just 3:24 into the game.

That happens when the Lightning activate their defense, but it was an odd read by Ian Cole in the defensive zone (he was the lone skater back). Cole had a bead on Acciari but seemed more concerned with the possibility of the pass to the side of the net and left the royal road open for the Leafs forward.

Unlike in the first two games, the opening goal was not an invitation to score a few more. The Lightning responded 1:16 later with Victor Hedman starting the rush in the neutral zone. His pass found Brandon Hagel who quickly found Alex Killorn in the slot. Killorn backhanded a pass to Anthony Cirelli and Tony Two Goals did not miss.

The Bolts were getting possession, but Toronto was doing a good job of blocking shots and keeping them away from Samsonov. For Toronto, when they were running their top line out whenever they could and eventually, following a Tampa Bay icing, were able to get a mismatch as the Matthews line was up against the Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line.

The Lightning couldn't clear the puck and Mitch Marner wristed a shot from the blue line that Auston Matthews deflected past Vasilevskiy. Not much Vasy could do on that one.

We talked in the preview about the Lightning trying to stay out of the penalty box, and for the most part they did. The lone penalty came when they were already on the power play when Nikita Kucherov slashed Justin Holl (which led to Holl sliding into the net and bouncing off of Vasilevskiy).

At the end of the period the Lightning picked up their second power play of the period and had some solid looks before scoring just after it ended, although it took some convincing from Nick Paul to get the refs to look at it.  Hagel started it with a nifty, shifty move. Corey Perry behind the net faked one way and went to the other where he found Hagel for a quick shot. It hit a Leafs and then went through Samsonov's wickets.

Another late in the period goal for the Lightning.

Noel Acciari (Matthew Knies, Ryan O'Reilly) 1-0 Maple Leafs

Anthony Cirelli (Alex Killorn, Brandon Hagel) 1-1

Auston Matthews (Mitch Marner, Calle Jarnkrok) 2-1 Maple Leafs

Brandon Hagel (Corey Perry, Ross Colton) 2-2

Second Period:

Not sure what they put into the water in the intermission, but the Lightning came out absolutely flying to start the second period. In just the first two minutes Brandon Hagel put one off the post, Tanner Jeannot had a breakaway turned aside, and Victor Hedman had his backdoor chance stoned by Samsonov.

In fact, it was Samsonov who kept the Maple Leafs level through the first ten minutes or so of the period as the Lightning ramped up their forecheck and harassed the Leafs into bad passes and turnovers. At one point Toronto had to just flip the puck down the ice to ease the pressure and hope they wouldn't ice it.

As the period wore on and the Lightning were denied on chance after chance (they were credited with 18 scoring chances at 5v5) there was that creeping feeling that if they couldn't get a goal here and Toronto weathered the storm, it could come back to haunt the home team.

Enter Darren Raddysh. The rookie wheeled behind the Toronto net and absorbed a big hit from Jake McCabe. Raddysh kept going and spun into the open space. Instead of looking for the pass he just winged it on net and it beat Samsonov cleanly.

Things then got a little wacky for a few minutes. First Ross Colton bumps Sam Lafferty after a whistle in front of the Toronto net. Lafferty responded with the good old crosscheck to the orbital bone. Give the refs credit, they did at least call a roughing penalty, although a five-minute major wouldn't have been out of line.

On the power play, the Leafs made the decision to throw the puck out from behind their net, but it hit Brayden Point and dropped into the crease. For the briefest of moments it was obscured from the view of the referee before Point poked it into the back of the net. That moment was long enough for the ref to blow the whistle and rule the play dead. Coach Cooper was less than happy about the call.

Throw in a dubious tripping call on Brayden Point a few minutes later and it seemed like one of those moments where things could spiral out of control and the had work of the period would dissipate into the ether.

Instead, the Lightning killed off the power play and finished the period off strong to go into the locker room with the lead.

Darren Raddysh (Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos) 3-2 Lightning

Third Period:

Emotions have run high a few times in this series and the one from last year. With the thinnest of margins and twenty minutes to go the Lightning needed to make sure they didn't take any careless or retaliation penalties. Hopefully, nothing controversial would happen.

Oh dear...

Okay, at first blush, I'm not going to lie, I thought it was a hit that might warrant a suspension. After the replays, I'm not happy, but I think it's the result of a contact being made close to the boards at high speed.  In the ensuing fracas Stamkos and Matthews squared off. It wasn't quite Lecavalier vs. Iginla, but it's always fun to see captains fight (it was also the first time two 60-goal scorers have every fought each other).

Kucherov, Stamkos, Darren Raddysh, Reilly, and O'Reilly were all booked for penalties and the Lightning ended up shorthanded. They managed to kill off the penalty rather convincingly and had a small boost when Point came back on the ice.

They kept things pretty much under control until the players left the penalty box, holding the Leafs to just one shot on goal for most of the period. As the time ticked off the clock desperation set in for Toronto and they kept the Lightning pinned back.

With Samsonov on the bench William Nylander fired a puck off of Vasilevskiy's pads. Ian Cole lost the position battle in front of the net and Ryan O'Reilly was able to knock the rebound into the net. That was disappointing.

Ryan O'Reilly (William Nylander, Mitch Marner) 3-3





The Lightning played a really, really solid fourth period. Unfortunately, Ilya Samsonov negated all of their positive effort. He made 8 saves as the Lightning had 24 shot attempts and 14 scoring chances. It seemed like the first 18 minutes were played in the Toronto zone, but it was a last minute face-off win by the Maple Leafs that set up Morgan Reilly, because of course it would be Morgan Reilly, for a fluttering shot that found space just under the bar on the short side.

Morgan Reilly (Ryan O'Reilly) 4-3 Maple Leafs

Just like last year, the Maple Leafs win Game Three to take a 2-1 series lead. The Lightning will look to even things up on Monday.