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Nick Paul’s first two career postseason goals lifted the Lightning to a 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs Saturday in Game 7 of their opening-round series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Tampa Bay won their ninth straight postseason series dating back to 2020 despite losing Brayden Point in the second period to an apparent lower-body injury.
The Lightning advanced to the second round, where they will play the Panthers, who they defeated in the first round last season on their way to the second of consecutive Stanley Cup championships.
Paul’s second goal, with 3:28 remaining in the second period, came just over three minutes after the Leafs’ Morgan Rielly scored off the rush to tie the game at 1.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was as sharp as ever in a series-clinching game, stopping 30 of 31 shots, including all 17 in the third period.
Ross Colton and Cal Foote assisted on the first of Paul’s goals. The second was unassisted.
Here’s how it happened:
Campbell stops McDonagh from the right circle on a 2-on-1 break
Perry slap shot from the top of the right circle smothered by Campbell
Hagel shot from in close doesn’t get through
Campbell drops to his knees to save quick shot from Kucherov from left point
Toronto shot from the point tipped just wide
Paul drives into the net and gets pushed by Blackwell into Campbell, who is shaken up, 16:02 left
Foote takes out Engvall
Palat penalized for hooking Marner, putting the Leafs on the power play with 13:41 remaining
Vasilevskiy saves Matthews blast from the right circle
Vasilevskiy stops Nylander one-timer from left circle, then Marner from in close
Rielly shot tipped in front by Matthews, but Vasilevskiy stops it
Lightning kill the Palat penalty, but the Leafs continue to pressure the net
Bellemare shot from near the blue line caught by Campbell
Muzzin wrist shot from the left circle goes wide
Rielly shot blocked into the corner
Muzzin shot from the left point blocked in front
Giordano shot from the center point blocked in front
Mikheyev drives the left side of the net but stopped by Vasilevskiy
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Giordano wrist shot from long range blocked by Foote
Cirelli blocks a shot and sends the puck down the ice
Kucherov misses a chance for a breakaway when an official gets into his line of sight
Bellemare shot bounces off a leg and goes into the corner
Campbell fights off Stamkos backhander from low in the left circle after Kucherov forced a turnover in the neutral zone
Leafs pull Campbell in favor of an extra attacker
Vasilevskiy makes save on Rielly from the slot after turnover behind the Lightning net
Maple Leafs call a timeout
Campbell back in the Toronto net
Campbell leaves the ice
Lightning ice the puck when Hedman pass bounces past Kucherov
Lightning clear the puck off the glass and out of the zone for another icing call
(Lightning win 2-1, win series 4-3)
Brayden Point is back on the Lightning bench
The Leafs have 30 seconds of power-play time remaining
The Lightning kill the Stamkos penalty
Michael Bunting wrist shot saved by Vasilevskiy
Point briefly returns to the ice but quickly goes back to the bench after blocking a shot
Tavares shot from the lower left circle blocked by Ondrej Palat
Spezza and Blackwell knock down Paul
Muzzin shot-pass goes through the middle and wide
Muzzin wrist shot saved by Vasilevskiy
Brodie slap shot from center point saved by Vasilevskiy
Campbell stops Perry from lower left circle after pass from Paul
Campbell finds Perry shot through traffic with Maroon in front
Paul shot off the rush from low in left circle saved by Campbell after pass from Killorn
Matthews shot from right circle goes off Vasilevskiy’s pad
Apparent Maple Leafs goal by Tavares from the slot waved off after it was determined that Cirelli was picked illegally by Justin Holl, freeing Tavares. Holl penalized for interference, and Lightning will go on the power play
Kucherov shot from right circle blocked by Giordano
Campbell stops Hedman shot from the center point, then Killorn and Stamkos have chances in front, but Brodie knocks the puck away from Stamkos
Campbell stops Stamkos from left circle
Lightning apply incredible pressure, but Leafs manage to kill the Holl penalty
Matthews hits Cernak
Engvall shot off the rush from the left circle stopped by Vasilevskiy
MAPLE LEAFS GOAL: Rielly ties the score from right circle off the rush after one-touch pass from Matthews, who got the puck from Marner. Lightning 1, Leafs 1.
Engvall shot blocked
Bellemare shot goes off a stick into the glass
Nylander shoots high on a breakaway opportunity
Vasilevskiy stops Matthews from the left circle
LIGHTNING GOAL! Nick Paul’s second goal of the game (and the postseason) puts the Lightning back ahead. Paul scores from the slot after grabbing a loose puck along the wall just inside the blue line. Lightning 2, Leafs 1.
Rielly gets back down the ice to thwart a potential breakaway chance for Colton
(Lightning lead 2-1 after two periods)
Nick Paul shot is blocked
David Kampf shot blocked by Corey Perry, and rebound attempt misses wide
Jake Muzzin shot from right point is blocked by Cal Foote
Brayden Point forces Alex Kerfoot turnover in Toronto zone, but runs out of room in front and Campbell makes the save
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shot blocked
Auston Matthews hits Nick Paul
Morgan Rielly shot from the left point saved by Andrei Vasilevskiy. Moments earlier, Zach Bogosian went down on one knee to keep Rielly from driving to the net after Perry stepped on the puck and lost his footing.
Vasilevskiy makes save in tight on John Tavares
Matthews shot blocked by Foote
Marner shot saved by Vasilevskiy
Paul shot blocked by Tavares
Brandon Hagel penalized for tripping Kerfoot along the sideboards, and the Leafs go on the power play
Matthews shot from right circle misses wide and goes down the ice
Nylander wrister from right circle saved by Vasilevskiy
Tip from Tavares goes wide after pass through the slot from Matthews
Nylander misses wide from the left side
Lightning kill the penalty
Mark Giordano accidentally knocks puck over the glass, resulting in a delay of game penalty and the Lightning’s first power play
Nikita Kucherov wrister misses wide
David Kampf clears the puck out of the zone
Leafs get another clear
Steven Stamkos shot from left circle saved by Jack Campbell
Victor Hedman blast from center point is saved
Hedman wrist shot saved by Campbell
Marner pass on shorthanded break doesn’t get through
Leafs kill the Giordano penalty
Sharp-angle shot by Marner doesn’t get to the net
Jason Spezza blast from the right point saved by Vasilevskiy
Tavares drives the right side of the net, but Vasilevskiy makes the save
Marner wrist shot into traffic from the point knocked down
Point limped off the ice after going hard into the boards with 2:49 left. He lost his balance and got his right leg twisted underneath him as he was going back toward the boards
Giordano shot from the left point off the rush goes wide
LIGHTNING GOAL! Nick Paul scores his first-ever playoff goal on the counter attack after a Toronto odd-man rush. Paul outreaches Rielly to rebound of Ross Colton shot. Lightning 1-0, 1:36.
Maple Leafs go on the power play as Marner pulled down and Stamkos is called for holding
Vasilevskiy makes save on Mikheyev after cross-ice pass at the buzzer
(Lightning lead 1-0 after one period)
Pregame scouting report
Was it a one-game reprieve?
Or something more?
We’ll get an answer tonight, when the Lightning play the Maple Leafs in a winner-take-all Game 7 of their opening-round playoff series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Brayden Point scored the winning goal on a rebound of an Alex Killorn shot with less than two minutes remaining in overtime as Tampa Bay avoided elimination and extended the series with a 4-3 victory Thursday at Amalie Arena.
The win kept the Lightning’s hopes alive for a third consecutive Stanley Cup championship. But whether it was for another game or at least another series remains to be seen.
To advance, the Bolts will need a a similar effort to Thursday’s, when they came out fast, outshooting the Maple Leafs 12-6 in the first period, took a two-goal lead, then showed resiliency in coming back after the Leafs scored twice in a 26-second span of the second period to move ahead. Tampa Bay also played heavy, outhitting Toronto 60-48.
The Lightning’s stars showed up, as Vasilevskiy stopped 30 of 33 shots, including all 13 over the third and overtime periods, Nikita Kucherov scored the tying goal during a 5-on-3 power play with assists from Point and Steven Stamkos, and Victor Hedman was plus-2 with four shots on goal while playing a game-high 31:43.
Ondrej Palat scored his third goal of the playoffs, tying Ross Colton for the team lead, and Anthony Cirelli gave the Bolts their first shorthanded goal of the postseason with a spin-o-rama shot that was the most spectacular of the series so far.
On the other side of the ice, NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews scored his fourth goal of the playoffs, John Tavares crammed two into the final 34 seconds of the second period, and William Nylander added two assists. Mitch Marner was held off the scoresheet but was a constant threat with the puck on his stick.
Can Tampa Bay reverse the trend in the series by becoming the first team to win back-to-back games and send Toronto to a 10th straight loss in a series-clinching game?
Follow our live coverage, starting at 7 p.m., as the Lightning have a chance to wrap up a ninth consecutive playoff series dating to 2020 and advance to the second round, where they would face the Panthers.
Game day scene
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