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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning's OT win pushes Maple Leafs to Game 7

May 13, 2022, 3:21 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Brayden Point scored at 18:04 overtime and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Thursday night to force a seventh game in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Point, who also had an assist, scored his second goal of the best-of-seven series when he knocked in a rebound during a scrum around the goal. The tally occurred after Toronto came close at the other end.

The decisive Game 7 will be played Saturday in Toronto.

Toronto overcame a 2-0 deficit with three consecutive second-period goals. Auston Matthews started the surge, and John Tavares completed it by scoring twice 26 seconds apart in the final minute.

Nikita Kucherov tied the game midway through the third period while Tampa Bay had a two-man advantage.

William Nylander added two assists for the Maple Leafs, who have not won a first-round playoff series since 2004.

Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli also scored for the Lightning, who got 30 saves from Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Jack Campbell stopped 31 shots for the Maple Leafs.

Alexander Kerfoot's turnover with the teams playing four-on-four allowed Palat to break in and score on a 23-footer to Campbell's blocker side at 17:38 of the first period. Palat's third goal of the series put Tampa Bay up 1-0.

Cirelli scored a short-handed goal at 10:46 of the second period to double the lead. He stole the puck in the neutral zone, broke in to beat Campbell with a spin-around shot.

Matthews answered 54 seconds later with his fourth goal of the series, deflecting Mark Giordano's shot.

Tavares scored at 19:26 of the second on a shot from the left circle, then added his third goal of the series at 19:52 from the left circle on Nylander's pass.

Kucherov tied the game from the slot at 9:20 of the third period with his second goal of the series while Tampa Bay was on a five-on-three power play. David Kampf and Kerfoot were serving high-sticking penalties.

Tampa Bay's Brandon Hagel missed an open net with about three minutes left in regulation.

Tampa Bay led 30-24 in shots on goal after three periods.

Toronto had a 9-5 edge in shots on goal in overtime.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs go for knockout of two-time defending champion Lightning

May 11, 2022, 8:06 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a chance to win a first-round playoff series for the first time since 2004 Thursday night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 6.

Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 4-3 on Tuesday night at home to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

They have lost in the opening round of the playoffs in their five previous tries, as well as in the 2020 qualifying round. Last season, Toronto even led the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in a first-round series before falling.

Toronto changed the series script Tuesday. In the previous four games, the team that scored first won.

This time, Toronto fell behind 2-0 in the first but came back to take a 3-2 lead in the third period when they scored twice with the teams playing 4-on-4.

Tampa Bay tied the game, but Toronto took advantage of a turnover in the neutral zone to get the winning goal from Auston Matthews at 13:54.

Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe knows finishing off a series is not easy, especially against a team that has won the Stanley Cup the past two years.

"No matter who you're playing, when you're trying to win a series, finishing it off is the hardest thing to do," Keefe said. "When you're playing against the back-to-back champs, who know nothing but winning here for the last couple of years, it's even harder."

The Lightning have been hurt by mistakes.

"We're not really making (Toronto) earn it," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We're kind of giving it to them. We had a power play, then take a penalty and give up two goals 4-on-4.

"We lost that special teams battle again. Too many mistakes and again they end up in the back of our net. So, it's unfortunate, because that game was there for the taking for us, and we let it slip through our fingers, and that's on us."

Tampa Bay is not short on confidence as Thursday's game approaches.

"We're going to regroup here," said Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, who scored the first goal on Tuesday. "We knew it was going to be a tough series. Those guys are good over there. But we have a group that has responded well to these types of situations for a long period of time, so we know what to expect heading home."

The Maple Leafs gave credit to veteran center Jason Spezza, who played just under six minutes, for inspiring them after a poor first period.

"Spezz got everybody in the room and said some stuff," Matthews said. "The main message was that that was not our best period and we've got to get back out there and compete."

Said Keefe: "That's not an uncommon thing. That's one of the intangibles (Spezza) brings. It's the same thing (he does) in the regular season. Well-timed."

Goaltender Jack Campbell also was a big factor in the victory. He was yanked from Game 4 after allowing five goals but on Tuesday night, he made 32 saves, including a stop on Nicholas Paul's second-period breakaway.

"He just looked like a veteran goalie," Keefe said. "And that's what you're looking for."

The Lightning know what is required.

"It's a 60-minute game, right?" Stamkos said. "So, in order to win at this time of year, you have to play a full game. Unfortunately, we didn't. We played a hell of a first 15 minutes (of) the first period, and we just couldn't replicate that for the rest of the game."

--Field Level Media

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs' Michael Bunting to return for Game 2 vs. Lightning

May 4, 2022, 4:32 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting will return to the lineup for Wednesday's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference first-round series against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, coach Sheldon Keefe announced.

Bunting sustained a knee injury in Toronto's 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on April 23. He missed the Maple Leafs' final three games of the regular season and series-opening 5-0 victory over the Lightning on Monday.

He will fill a lineup void with Kyle Clifford serving a one-game suspension for his hit on Lightning forward Ross Colton in the series opener.

Bunting, 26, recorded 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) in 79 games this season, his first with Toronto.

He has 77 points (34 goals, 43 assists) in 105 career games with the Arizona Coyotes and Maple Leafs. He was selected by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at San Jose Sharks

Maple Leafs F Kyle Clifford faces hearing with NHL

May 3, 2022, 3:30 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford will have a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Tuesday following his hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ross Colton in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Clifford was ejected from the Maple Leafs' 5-0 victory on Monday after receiving a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding.

Clifford hit Colton into the glass in the neutral zone at 6:59 of the first period. Colton was not injured on the play, and the Lightning mustered just two shots on the ensuing five-minute power play.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday in Toronto.

Clifford, 31, recorded three points (one goal, two assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 23 games with the Maple Leafs this season. He also had an assist in two games with the St. Louis Blues in 2021-22.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs' Michael Bunting to sit out final two games of season

April 26, 2022, 6:22 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Forward Michael Bunting will sit out the Toronto Maple Leafs' final two games of the regular season before having his lower-body injury re-evaluated prior to the playoffs.

Bunting, 26, sustained the injury in Toronto's 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday. He did not play in the Maple Leafs' 4-3 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

"He obviously skated today so a very positive sign," Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday. "He's not going to play this week and then we will re-evaluate him from there, but things are looking positive."

Bunting has recorded 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) in 79 games this season.

He has 77 points (34 goals, 43 assists) in 105 career games with the Arizona Coyotes and Maple Leafs. He was selected by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Draft.

--Field Level Media

NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four Championship Game-Denver vs Minnesota State

Maple Leafs sign Hobey Baker-winning G Dryden McKay

April 26, 2022, 2:34 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Goaltender Dryden McKay, the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner as the top player in college hockey, signed a two-year contract on Monday with the Toronto Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.

McKay, who starred for four seasons at Minnesota State, recently received a six-month suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after a positive test for ostarine, a prohibited substance. The 24-year-old goalie blamed the positive test on a tainted vitamin D3 immune booster that he took to avoid COVID-19.

He is coming off a season in which he went 38-5-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. McKay guided Minnesota State to the national championship game, where it lost 5-1 to Denver.

McKay's 38 wins were a single-season NCAA Division I record, and he also broke the Division I mark for most career shutouts, posting 34.

He ended up 113-20-4 with a 1.46 GAA and a .932 save percentage over 140 games for Minnesota State.

According to the Marlies, per McKay's drug suspension, he will be eligible to enter club facilities on Aug. 25 and play for the team beginning Oct. 11.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lighning-White House Visit

Stanley Cup champion Lightning honored at White House

April 26, 2022, 12:44 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

It was a long time coming, but the Tampa Bay Lightning finally celebrated their Stanley Cup championships at the White House on Monday.

Though the Lightning won the Stanley Cup three times, it was the first time the team was honored at the White House by a sitting president. The NHL's lockout in 2004-05 kept the team from going to Washington after that title, and the pandemic pushed back Monday's visit until after Tampa Bay claimed back-to-back championships.

In honoring the Lightning for their titles the past two seasons, President Joe Biden praised the team's efforts amid the pandemic and noted that first lady Jill Biden had attended a vaccination event at the team's arena last year.

"I'm not saying that the first lady being there at your arena during the playoffs is why you won," Biden said. "But just saying that she was there during the election season, as well. She seems to show up when people win. Just something to think about."

The majority of the last season's team was in attendance Monday -- there were no noticeable absences -- and some players from the 2019-20 club made appearances.

"Pretty much everybody was on board, and everybody that could make it -- former players and stuff -- they all tried to make it here," alternate captain Ryan McDonagh said. "It's just a great tradition that we have: You become part of a championship team, you get to go to the White House and meet the president."

"It was a long time in the making," captain Steven Stamkos said. "We weren't sure if we were going to get this opportunity, but it was certainly worth the wait."

--Field Level Media

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews to return vs. Panthers

April 23, 2022, 7:05 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews will return to the lineup for Saturday's road game against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

Matthews, who leads the NHL with a career-best 58 goals, has been sidelined for three games with an undisclosed injury.

"It's been a little bit difficult just trying to work through it," Matthews said Saturday. "I feel comfortable getting back in tonight. These are important games for us coming up, so it's exciting.

"I think you can always take the positive and the negative. Obviously I don't like to not play. It's never fun sitting out, never fun watching games when you wish you could be in there. But you've got to take the good with the bad and hopefully that little bit of rest is beneficial. Obviously I'd much prefer to be playing."

Matthews, 24, also has posted career-high totals in assists (44) and points (102) in 70 games this season.

He has 453 points (257 goals, 196 assists) in 404 career games since being selected by the Maple Leafs with the top overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Heritage Classic-Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres

NHL fines Maple Leafs' Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Clifford

April 22, 2022, 5:26 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The NHL issued fines Friday to Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds.

Clifford was fined $2,500 for high-sticking Corey Perry in Toronto's 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Simmonds was fined $2,250 for charging Mikhail Sergachev later in the same game.

The fine amounts were the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement.

Clifford drew a match penalty after hitting Perry in the head at 8:10 of the third period. Simmonds earned a 10-minute penalty about seven minutes later.

Clifford, 31, has four points (one goal, three assists) and 31 penalty minutes in 22 games this season with the St. Louis Blues and Maple Leafs.

Simmonds, 33, has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) and 96 penalty minutes in 69 games.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews out vs. Flyers

April 19, 2022, 3:41 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs star forward Auston Matthews will sit out his second straight game with an undisclosed injury, coach Sheldon Keefe announced Tuesday morning.

Matthews skated on the ice Tuesday morning, hours before the Maple Leafs (50-20-6, 106 points) were slated to host the Philadelphia Flyers (23-42-11, 57 points).

Keefe refused to divulge the nature of the injury for Matthews, who also sat out Toronto's 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday.

"Given the time of year and the fact it's pretty minor and I think he's going to move past it pretty quickly," Keefe said, via TSN. "So, we'll just leave it at that."

Matthews, 24, is in the midst of a career season. Entering play on Tuesday, Matthews has an NHL-leading 58 goals to go along with 44 assists and 102 points in 70 games this season.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs

Leafs' Auston Matthews day to day with minor injury

April 18, 2022, 12:42 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is listed as day to day after being scratched from Sunday's game against the New York Islanders because of an undisclosed minor injury.

Matthews suffered the injury during a 5-4 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said John Tavares would replace Matthews on the front line.

Matthews, who is in his sixth NHL season, has a league-high 58 goals and needs just two for his first 60-goal season.

Toronto has six games remaining after Sunday's contest.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Edmonton Oilers

Lightning re-sign G Brian Elliott to 1-year deal

April 15, 2022, 3:32 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning re-signed goaltender Brian Elliott to a one-year contract on Friday.

The team said the contract is valued at $900,000.

Elliott, 37, is in his first season as the backup goaltender with the Lightning after signing a one-year free-agent deal in July. He has a 9-3-3 record with one shutout, a 2.23 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 14 starts and 16 appearances.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is entrenched as the starting goalie.

The second-to-last pick of the 2003 NHL Draft by Ottawa, Elliott has played 15 seasons with the Senators, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and Lightning.

His career record is 265-158-52 with a 2.52 GAA and .911 save percentage.

A two-time All-Star, Elliott has led the NHL in save percentage twice -- .940 in 2011-12 and .930 in 2015-16.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs G Petr Mrazek (groin) out six weeks

March 31, 2022, 4:06 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek will miss the rest of the regular season with a groin injury, coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed Thursday.

The Maple Leafs (42-19-5, 89 points) finish the season on April 29. Toronto entered Thursday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and the Stanley Cup playoffs begin on May 2.

Mrazek, 30, sustained the injury during the first period of Toronto's 6-4 road win against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. He stopped three of four shots before being replaced by Erik Kallgren.

Kallgren will start Thursday night against the visiting Winnipeg Jets as the Maple Leafs wait for Jack Campbell to recover from a rib injury. Campbell has been out since March 8.

Mrazek concludes his first season in Toronto with a 12-6-0 record, a 3.34 goals-against average and a .888 save percentage. He signed a three-year, $11.4 million contract last July.

He owns a 140-102-31 record with 24 shutouts, a 2.64 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 295 career games with the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes and Leafs.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Vancouver Canucks

Lightning D Ryan McDonagh (upper body) out indefinitely

March 27, 2022, 5:19 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, the team announced.

McDonagh was injured while blocking a shot from Brandon Carlo in the third period of the Lightning's 3-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Thursday. McDonagh, who had a team-high six blocked shots, returned for one shift before retreating to the locker room.

McDonagh, 32, has 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) and a team-leading 116 blocked shots through 60 games in his 12th NHL season.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner has 331 points (70 goals, 262 assists) in 772 career games with the New York Rangers and Lightning. McDonagh was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 12th overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft.

--Field Level Media

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Minnesota Wild

Report: Flyers acquire D Brennan Menell from Maple Leafs

March 23, 2022, 11:30 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenseman Brennan Menell from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday in exchange for future considerations, according to a report from ESPN.

Menell, 24, appeared in five games with the Minnesota Wild during the 2019-20 campaign. He has appeared in 20 games this season for the AHL's Toronto Marlies, registering one goal and four assists in 20 games.

The 5-foot-11 Minnesota native also has 15 penalty minutes and a minus-6 rating for the Marlies this season.

Although the NHL trade deadline was Monday, Menell will be able to play this season for Philadelphia's AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

--Field Level Media