TORONTO ( Associated Press) – Auston Matthews scored a tiebreaking goal in the third period with a 6:06 finish as the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Tuesday night and took 3 . 2 leads in the first round playoff series.
William Nylander added a goal and two assists for Toronto, a win away from going forward after the season for the first time since 2004. John Tavares had a goal and an assist, and Morgan Reilly also scored. Jack Campbell stopped 32 shots.
Steven Stamkos, Viktor Heidman and Ryan McDonagh scored, Nikita Kucherov made two assists and Andrei Vasilevsky made 22 saves for the two-time Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who would try to avoid elimination in a best-of-seven series in Game 6. Thursday night home.
Game 7, if required, will take place in Toronto on Saturday.
Mathews drew 3-3 in the third period in a 2-on-1 run. Mitch Marner fired a shot on Wasilewski’s right pad and Matthews, who had scored 60 goals during the regular season, scored his third playoff and ignited a raucous home crowd.
Lightning pulled Wasilewski late and had a few chances, but iced the puck with 21.9 seconds to put the 2021 Cone Smith Trophy winner back in his crease.
After going down 2–1 to third, Toronto tied the score on 4 on 4 with the teams playing 3:01 when Tavares grabbed the puck in the offensive zone before finding Riley, who took his turn. Scored the first score of the series.
The Leafs took their first lead when Nylander scored his third goal of the last two games on Vasilevsky.
But the Lightning responded at 8:17 when McDonagh blasted a shot in front of Campbell, tying the game at 3 before Matthews won.
The Maple Leafs were coming off a 7-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 4.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe went with the same lineup for the third straight game. He shook three of his team’s four lines. This included the separation of Tavares and Nylander, while Michael Bunting returned to the top trio with Matthews and Marner.
Toronto got an early power play to continue the series’ parade in the penalty box, but could not connect despite some good looks from Marner.
Stamkos made it 1-0 on an earlier 5:19. The Lightning then had their first man advantage when TJ Brody left for hooking, and they went up two at 6:11 when Hedman fired a shot that found its way through traffic.
Toronto killed a 5-on-3 power play 30 seconds later, thanks to a few big stops from Campbell, before Nylander came out of the box alone, only to be denied by Wasilewski.
Tampa Bay ended the period that included seven minor penalties with a 14-5 lead in shots.
Lightning whistled for many of the men on the ice at the start of the second for their second interception of the night, and Toronto broke down when Nylander fired a shot that hit Tavares’ skate for the captain’s first goal of the series. went away.
The Leafs continued to push as the period passed, Vasilevsky was forced to make several large savings.
Campbell had a very quiet period at the other end, but after Nick Paul made a big stop on the breakaway, he removed Morgan Reilly from the puck.