Bolts on brink of elimination against Leafs

by Gary Shelton on May 11, 2022

in general

Cooper needs to win two in a row./TIM WIRT

Wednesday, 4 a.m

From here, you can see the end.

From here, you can see elimination. You can see the emptiness of the off-season, and the delight of a Toronto fanbase that hasn't seen a playoff series victory since 2004, and the horrible feeling of skating away from a season that died young.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, let a lead get away in a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night. The Bolts, who faced just one elimination game in the last two seasons (the Islanders), now must fight off two in a row to avoid going home for the off-season.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on

Kucherov was dejected by the defeat./TIM WIRT

It's a bitter place for the Bolts to be today, especially with the way the game started. The Bolts jumped to a 2-0 lead, and led 2-1 going into the third period. This season, Tampa Bay was 28-2 when leading afetr two.

It didn't happen this time. The Leafs scored three times in the third period, including two goals on a four-on-four, to get within one win of advancing.

"We’re not really making them earn it," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We’re kind of giving it to them. We take too-many-men penalties, which can kill momentum. There was the one they score on, that’s on us. We get a power play and then take a penalty to take a guy off. We give up two four on four goals.

"Tonight, I thought there were too many mistakes, and once again, they ended up in the back of our net. It's unfortunate because that game was there for the taking for us. We let it slip through our fingers. That’s on us."

Certainly, it seemed early that The Lightning would take control of the series when Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman scored. The Bolts also had a five-on-three with a chance to go up 3-0 but didn't.

 "You get a lead like that, keep them out of your net," Cooper said. "We didn’t need to score any more goals. We needed to keep them out. And we didn’t do that."

The Lightning has rebounded from defeat before. Over the last two-plus seasons, they're 16-0 after losing a game. But this time, they have to win two.

Said Stamkos: "We just sat back too much and got away from our game plan."

Auston Matthews scored the winning goal with 6:06 left to play.

"We're here to win the series," Cooper said. "We let this one slip away. But we haven’t let the series slip away. We let the game slip away. "

The teams play again Thursday night at Amalie Arena at 7 p.m. If needed, a Game Seven would be Saturday night in Toronto.

Stamkos looks at the scoreboard./TIM WIRT


Previous post:

Next post: