Nylander. Tavares state their presence as Leafs comeback for game 5 win

Stefan Luciani
FiredUp Network Sports Writer

@stefanluciani_

Wednesday, May 11, 2022


Final Score: 4-3

Headed into their game five matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, the Maple Leafs knew just how critical it was. If they were to lose, they’d be heading back to Tampa for game six, needing to topple the defending champs in two straight playoff games - a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since Tampa won their first cup back in 2020. 

 

But this was a Toronto team that played with resilience throughout game five. They put on a stellar show to keep themselves in it, and score three unanswered goals to give themselves the edge. Tampa would fight back but the Leafs again were able to subdue the threat, and walk out of Scotiabank Arena with a 4-3 victory.

 

Things looked bleak from the off for Toronto. Many, getting the feeling they’d seen this episode before as Steven Stamkos opened the scoring just minutes into the opening frame, followed by a Victor Hedman PPG, shortly thereafter.

 

But the energy was injected back into the arena when John Tavares redirected William Nylander’s point shot past Andre Vasilevskiy to cut the lead to just one, early in the second period. They came out to start the third a reinvigorated squad as Morgan Rielly scored the equalizer, before it was Nylander again just minutes later, who snapped a wrister low-glove on the Bolts goaltender. It marked the first true lead change this playoff series has seen. 

 

But the Bolts, down and not out, fought back as Ryan McDonagh grabbed his first of the playoffs off a feed from Ross Colton, to even things out again at three - we were going to get another lead change. 

 

Who more fitting than the one and only, Auston Matthews to do it. In the final 10 minutes of the game, Michael Bunting forced a neutral zone turnover that sprung Mitch Marner and Matthews, on a 2-on-1 situation, before Marner placed a perfect shot on Vasilevskiy, who served up a juicy rebound for Matthews to easily tuck into bed.

 

The city of Toronto erupted as the Leafs then found themselves again with the lead, and just over five minutes to go. The Leafs were able to fend off the extra attacker, with Jack Campbell making some timely saves to hold on for the game five win, as they now hold the upper hand in the series with a 3-2 lead. Toronto was dominant in the face-off circle Tuesday night as they won a whopping 62%.

 

Campbell himself put up another clutch performance to stop 32 of the 35 shots he faced, but it was Jason Spezza given a lot of the credit for the goaltender’s play. The resident veteran was seen giving the netminder a pep talk while Tampa still held the 2-0 lead.

 

After the game, Keefe was asked about the overall performance from his team, specifically from that core offensive four. “It’s everything that you’re looking for,” Keefe said of the showing once the dust had settled on the victory. “It’s a key time, right? The hardest time of year. Against the back-to-back champs.

 

“That’s what you’re looking for in big games like this. You need your best people to step up and make a difference. They certainly did that.”

 

The Maple Leafs now head back to Tampa for game six, as they look to seal themselves a playoff series win for the first time in almost 20 years.

 

 

Scoring Summary

1st Period

5:19 - TB Steven Stamkos (2) 1-0

6:11 - TB Victor Hedman PPG (2) 2-0

 

2nd Period

3:35 - TOR John Tavares PPG (1) 2-0

 

3rd Period 

3:01 - TOR Morgan Rielly (2) 2-2

4:14 - TOR William Nylander (3) 3-2

8:17- - TB Ryan McDonagh (1) 3-3

13:54 - TOR Auston Matthews (3) 4-3