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May 4, 2022 1:36 pm

Maple Leafs, Lightning off to chippy start in series

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be out to maintain their home-ice advantage Wednesday night in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Maple Leafs, after killing off a five-minute penalty in the first period in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series on Monday, went on to a 5-0 victory.

“Our crowd was unbelievable (Monday),” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “I thought the crowd was the first star of the game, despite having a lot of guys that were good. I thought that they carried us through that five-minute kill.”

The Maple Leafs received big games from their top stars. Auston Matthews had two goals and an assist, with Mitchell Marner adding a goal and two assists.

The Lightning offered token resistance.

“I’m not so sure the Maple Leafs had to play particularly well to beat us (Monday),” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “When you’ve got to win four, you don’t want to give teams any freebies, and we probably gave them a little bit of a freebie.”

The Lightning had their second power play of the game at 6:59 of the first period when Toronto’s Kyle Clifford was assessed a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct for his hit on Ross Colton. Following a hearing with the NHL Tuesday, Clifford received a one-game suspension that he will serve Wednesday.

Michael Bunting will return from a four-game absence because of a knee injury to replace Clifford in the lineup, Keefe announced Wednesday.

Tampa Bay was ineffective during the power play and Toronto had three scoring chances while short-handed.

“Some plays that had been clicking the last stretch here this season were just hitting a stick, hitting a skate,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “But at the same time, (Toronto) did a good job of executing on those (penalty kills) early and they gained some momentum. It could have been a really different game if we had scored early on that. So that was a missed opportunity for us.”

The game was chippy in the third period with some fighting and scrums at 10:09 that resulted in a total of 78 penalty minutes.

Three players from each team were assessed 10-minute misconducts, and Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta and Toronto’s Morgan Rielly had fighting majors on top of assorted minors.

“Standing up for each other,” Matthews said. “I think that’s what we all got out of it.”

The teams combined for 113 penalty minutes in the game. The Lightning power play finished 0-for-5.

“I thought we played through the contact, we played through a long five-minute penalty kill there. Our penalty kill was huge (Monday),” Matthews said. “I think that brought us a lot of momentum.”

Toronto goaltender Jack Campbell had little trouble. He handled 24 shots for his second career playoff shutout. Stamkos had an open net during the second period but flubbed his shot.

“Certainly we need to get back to what our identity is here as far as keeping the puck out of our net and letting our offense come from that,” Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “(Toronto) had some odd-man rushes, some breakaways, and that’s not winning hockey. We’ll look at things and be better here in Game 2.”

“It’s going to be a long series, it’s a really good team on the other end and they’re going to be ready next game,” Matthews said. “Have to watch this one, learn from it, obviously a really great win but we have to move on to the next one.”

–Field Level Media

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