TAMPA — Months from now, it may be hard to remember the finer details from Game 6.
It’s hard to look past Brayden Point’s game-winning goal in overtime that knotted the first-round series again with Toronto.
But Anthony Cirelli’s second-period, short-handed goal also had a role in keeping the team’s playoff hopes alive.
Cirelli had been held without a goal for the entire series, making the moment all the more special for the defensive-minded forward who puts up key minutes on the team’s second penalty-kill unit.
On the play, Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev made his way through the neutral zone with the puck on his stick with about 30 seconds remaining on Toronto’s power play. As he tried passing it off to Michael Bunting, Cirelli intercepted the pass at the blue line.
Cirelli raced toward goaltender Jack Campbell, with four players in tow, trying to beat defenseman Mark Giordano. The defenseman held the inside position, forcing Cirelli into a spin move that gave him the edge as he shot the puck past Campbell for a 2-0 lead.
“I think their D did a good job of angling me off, so I didn’t really have a lane,” Cirelli said. “That’s when I figured I just wanted to get one on net there.”
His coach was impressed.
“That’s a heck of a play by him,” Jon Cooper said. “... I’ve said it all series, it’s come down to special teams.”
A big night for Vasilevskiy
For a moment or two, it looked like the Maple Leafs had frazzled one of the Lightning’s cornerstone players.
In a 26-second flurry, Toronto’s John Tavares slipped a pair of pucks past goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, the reigning playoff MVP, giving the Leafs a 3-2 lead.
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It’s not often that Vasilevskiy looks off his game. But it was just the jolt he needed as he made 13 saves, including nine in overtime, over the next nearly 40 minutes of play.
One of his key saves in the extra period came on a turnover from Ross Colton in the Lightning zone just over two minutes in. Mikheyev jumped on the opportunity and sent the puck flying toward Vasilevskiy on a snapshot, but he stopped it with a glove save.
“I think Vasy made some huge saves for us there in overtime,” Point said. “They had some good looks. Vasy comes up big, and then we’re able to squeak one in.”
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