Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with defenseman Mikhail Sergachev (98) and forward Steven Stamkos (91) during the first period of Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

Lightning Strike Maple Leafs in Game One Victory, 7-3

In what was a reversal of last year’s first round game one, the Tampa Bay Lightning cruised over the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto Tuesday night. The Lightning scored just over a minute into the game and were up quick 3-0 after the first period.

Andrei Vasilevskiy ended the night with 28 saves on 31 shots while Ilya Samsonov stopped 23 of 29. Samsonov was replaced by Joseph Woll in the third period for Toronto.

Tampa, however, delt with a couple injuries on the ice with Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak and Michael Eyssimont. Their status is to be determined.

First Period

The Lightning couldn’t have had a better start to the game than they did. It took them 1:18 into the game to send the first puck to the back of the net, hushing the Toronto crowd. It was the fourth line who produced the first goal, a line that has been looking for effective production. Corey Perry took a shot on net as he circled the goal. Samsonov made the initial save, but the puck found Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s stick as he slid it from his backhand for goal number one.

The Lightning came out with full force, remaining aggressive and maintaining possession of the puck. Rebounds were deflected off of Samsonov’s pads, and Tampa took advantage.

A pinball was sent around after Brandon Hagel’s shot was bounced back. Anthony Cirelli found it and swatted it into the net to put the Bolts up 2-0.

T.J. Brodie was sent off for holding as Toronto gave the Lightning a one-man advantage. A late first period power play and Nikita Kucherov made them pay. From the right circle with less than five seconds left in the period, Kucherov sent in a one-timer to the back of the net to put the Bolts up three-zip.

Second Period

The Maple Leafs as expected, came out in period two with an edge on their shoulder. But it was a couple of Lightning players who went down that would give them the initial matchup advantage. Erik Cernak blocked a shot with his arm and went down in pain. As if that wasn’t enough of a kick to the Lightning’s lineup, defenseman Victor Hedman was shown walking down the tunnel.

Cernak entered back but was whistled after he gave Michael Bunting a mouthful of his glove, sending him to the box for roughing.

Toronto capitalized on this opportunity after solid passing from their line. John Tavares slid it over to an open Ryan O’Reilly and shoved one upstairs to put the Maple Leafs on the board.

Suddenly, it became a one goal game off another Lightning penalty. Ross Colton went to the box and William Nylander found his hole. Waiting patiently to build traffic in front of Vasilevskiy, Nylander wristed a shot that sailed into the back of the net.

Lightning Score Four Straight

Tampa took advantage of another power play just over a minute later. Kucherov found Brayden Point off the board and passed him the puck. Tucking his shot into the net, Point scored to extend the Bolts lead 4-2.

The Maple Leafs were sent to the box again, but for a five-minute match penalty. The refs didn’t like Michael Bunting’s elbow to Erik Cernak, sending the power play unit on for the Lightning. Unlike in last year’s game one, Tampa took advantage of the major.

Perry fired one into the goal from the far post that sent sticks stabbing at the puck. Hands flew in the air as the Bolts called for a goal. A video review confirmed the goal.

It was another buzzer beater as the Lightning scored their sixth goal with less than two seconds left. Point sent a backhander that slide through the five-hole of Samsonov.

Third Period

Woll came in on Toronto’s end to try and limit the Bolts strikes. However, it wasn’t too long before the Lightning were able to get one through him as well.

Nick Perbix fed Colton the puck at the far blue line on the stride to create a breakaway chance. Colton was able to beat Woll with ease as he sent in the seventh goal of the game for Tampa.

Toronto was able to tally another, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Lightnings all around ice production.

Mitch Marner gave the puck to Calle Jarnkrok at the near post for a tap-in goal to settle the game at 7-3.

Both sides danced around the ice for the final minutes as the Lightning secured its first road playoff win to put them ahead 1-0 in the series. They will play Toronto again on the road Thursday before heading back home to Tampa for games three and four.

About Gabriela Vitale

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