Leafs clobber Lightning to even series

by Gary Shelton on April 21, 2023

in general

Ian Cole scored the Bolts' first goal./TIM WIRT

Friday, 4 a.m.

Evidently , the switch still works both ways.

Two nights after dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Tampa Bay Lightning were themselves dominated in their best-of-seven series. It was 7-2, and it felt worse.

The series now moves to Tampa and Amalie Arena for games Saturday and Monday nights.

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Corey Perry scored another playoff goal./TIM WIRT

The Leafs were the more electric team from the start, scoring 47 seconds into the game. They led 3-0 after one period and 6-1 after two. They were quicker, more determined.

"The guys are pros," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "We had a really close seat to what happened. They know what’s going on.”

John Tavares had a hat trick for the Leafs.

Andrei Vasilevskiy had started 100 previous playoff games. Only once had he allowed seven goals. Cooper admitted he thought about pulling Vasilevskiy from the game, but Vasilevskiy wasn't having it.

"That was quickly shut down by the goalie," Cooper said. "That’s why he’s the best in the world. He’s not coming out."

The Lightning played without Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak from their defense.

"This had nothing to do with Victor Hedman being out of the game," Cooper said. " We’ve won games in this league without Victor Hedman. I could sit here and go through 100 years of cliches. In the end, did we play hard enough to win? Probably not. One team was a little more urgent. It’s not because one guy was out. That would be a poor, poor excuse."

For the Bolts, Ian Cole scored a goal to bring the Bolts within 3-1. Corey Perry also scored.

The Bolts' big three of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos were zero-for-11 for the night.

The Bolts next play on Saturday at 7 p.m. against Toronto.

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