Paul scores 2, Lightning hold off Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7

TORONTO (AP) – Nick Paul scored twice, including an incredible individual effort in scoring the winner late in the second half, and Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in game 7 on Saturday night to win their first round. playoff series.

Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 30 shots from the two defending Stanley Cup champions.

Morgan Rielly scored for Toronto, who hadn’t reached the second round since 2004 and are now 0-9 in the knockouts in the final five innings after also losing 4-3 in game six in Tampa, Florida , two nights earlier. Jack Campbell had 23 saves.

Maple Leafs was once again insurmountable and ended up turning over a long, ugly story of playoff failures to a series that has now lost its last seven series, including six consecutive series. continued since 2017.

Toronto is currently 7-3 at home in Game 7, including a loss at Scotiabank Arena last season after taking a 3-1 lead to the Montreal Canadianiens.

Having taken a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes in this game, the Maple Leafs appeared to seal the score at 11:28 of the second half when John Tavares made a shot at Vasilevskiy, but the goal was wiped out. after Toronto defender Justin Holl was whistled for interference.

Campbell had to make a few desperate stops in the ensuing kill to set the stage for Rielly’s equalizer after a setup from Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews to score the playoffs’ third goal at 6: 35 to plunge a crowd of 19,316 into a frenzy.

The goal was Vasilevskiy and Lightning’s first in their last six decisive matches.

William Nylander then headed high in a breakthrough and goalkeeper Tampa robbed Matthews with an echo of the Maple Leafs.

But Paul scored his second of the night – and his second ever in the knockout stages – with 3:28 left in time in a superb game where he kicked the ball from skates on his stick.

Tampa almost made it 3-1 when Kucherov hit the post.

Vasilevskiy was surrounded at full strength by Toronto playing just over six minutes on Tuesday, but kept the home team flying despite some intense pressure.

Toronto continues to hit a nervous, tense track as the clock ticks down.

However, the Maple Leafs were unable to find a way through with Campbell on the bench for an additional skater to complete another disappointing playoff chapter.

Both teams had great opportunities to break through early, but Vasilevskiy and Campbell were present at every turn.

Tavares nearly scored on a great close-by that Vasilevskiy shot into his left wing before the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner denied Marner. Campbell then hosted the fort in a match with Lightning powers thanks to a couple of great looks for the away team.

Brayden Point, who scored the winning goal in Tampa’s Game 6 win to extend the streak, was injured late in the first game when his right foot got stuck underneath as he fell onto the ice. The striker – in agony as he made his way down the tunnel to the dressing room – tried to return in the second half, but closed the door after a short shift.

The Lightning took a 1-0 lead shortly after Point was knocked down in the first game when Paul, who had several chances in Game 5 with his teammates before Toronto roared back, scored the first goal. first. Campbell stopped the first step after Ross Colton’s swoop on a Rielly hit, but the rebound fell to Paul at 1:36 as Toronto conceded its first goal in the fourth game. consecutive.

The Lightning only played in their second Game 7 since the start of the 2020 knockout round after beating the New York Islanders 1-0 at home in the semifinals last June.

It was Toronto’s first Saturday game at home with fans – the club’s 2021 loss to Montreal was played in the presence of 550 medical staff because of COVID-19 restrictions – since 2004 when Joe Nieuwendyk scored twice to oust the Ottawa Senators. Paul scores 2, Lightning hold off Maple Leafs 2-1 in Game 7

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