After falling down 0-2 in the first period, William Nylander led the comeback for the Leafs, with Auston Matthews scoring the game-winner to send the Leafs to Tampa Bay with a 3-2 series lead. John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, Nylander, and Matthews scored the goals for the Leafs, while Jack Campbell stopped 31 of 34 shots in an incredible effort after losing the lead early.
You truly are the best fans in the NHL, Leafs Nation. You played your part in the win, too.
The Leafs got the opening power play when the Bolts got called for too many men. The Leafs had some passing plays, but failed to get a shot off. Marner had gotten a breakaway earlier, but missed the net on the reverse shot.
Steven Stamkos went the other way with Ondřej Palat after the penalty kill and scored from the slot past Campbell.
The Leafs had only just gotten their first shot as Victor Hedman doubled the lead for the Lightning, making it two in less than a minute with a shot from the point. Brodie had taken a penalty shortly before.
Kucherov and Point looked dangerous with more chances after Kerfoot got a chance that went wide.
Shots were 1-8 just eight minutes into the period.
The crowd pleaded the Leafs to get back into the game with a big “Go Leafs Go” chant.
Blackwell left the game midway through the period after taking this puck to the head. He returned in the last two minutes of the period and drew a penalty straight away.
Colin Blackwell went to the locker room after taking a puck to the side of the head pic.twitter.com/2hyTgecvtq— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
A couple minutes later, Nylander got called for holding. And with 30 seconds left in Nylander’s penalty, Giordano got a tough tough call for cross checking, giving the Lightning a 5v3 for half a minute. Campbell made a big save to kill the first 10 seconds, Kucherov’s shot killed the remaining time.
Nylander got a shorthanded breakaway chance as he got out of the box, but his shot high was stopped by Vasilevskiy.
Kucherov went on a solo rush with Giordano still in the box, but was smothered. Holl and Marner cleared the puck. Mikheyev and Kaše cleared the rest of the time and the Leafs killed it off. Hopefully future me will have called back to this as a turning point. At this point I’m desperate.
Bunting drew a penalty on Point after a couple good confidence-building shifts. Meanwhile this hit wasn’t called. Or Cernak taking the net off himself.
right in the numbers— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
puck is gone
okay man pic.twitter.com/qmWTdgdlwd
what is your purpose!?— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
what are you looking at!? pic.twitter.com/KtCiA9KTG2
Rielly whiffed on a rebound from Marner’s point shot. McDonagh took down Tavares in the act. The first unit had to leave, but Matthews and Marner stayed out. Matthews passed to Marner after a great keep in by Giordano, but Marner’s stick exploded. Gah.
on your way to a scoring chance and Marner's stick decided to explode pic.twitter.com/IOMxcbYDtI— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
Blackwell came back and drew a penalty in the offensive zone to send the Leafs back to the power play. Marner killed the power play six seconds into it for hooking McDonagh.
Tavares and Nylander got a 2-on-2 during the 4v4, turned it into a great chance, but Vasilevskiy closed the door at the last minute.
A god awful period. The Leafs got out-played, and they didn’t get the results on the chances they did get. The Lightning did. No one can look good at this point when the results aren’t behind them.
(All situations stats)
Shot Share: 14-22 (39%)
Shots on Goal: 5-14
Expected Goals: 42%
The second period started with the rest of the 4v4. Matthews with Nylander, Tavares with Marner when he eventually came out. Kucherov had a solo chance that Campbell had to be sharp to stop.
It looked like Keefe went back to Mikheyev, Kämpf, and Engvall as a line, so those earlier combinations of the big guys might have stuck.
Lightning took a second too many men penalty, sending the Leafs back to the power play.
NYLANDER TO TAVARES AND THE LEAFS ARE BACK IN THE GAME!!!! Redirection in the slot finally got the puck past Vasilevskiy.
or JOHN TAVARES— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
They're giving the goal to Tavares but it looks like Nylander's initial shot goes off Sergachev pic.twitter.com/NxUtXXLHFK— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
Matthews came back out with Marner and Bunting after two strong shifts from the bottom six. Matthews had his big shot blocked by Stamkos right away, while Marner and Bunting nearly connected later in their shift. Tavares later came out with Nylander and Kerfoot.
Matthews drew a tripping penalty on Stamkos, who was on his ass hard all night. Leafs fans helped call that penalty. Making the most of home ice.
On the power play, Marner fed Matthews with a quick backhand but his backhand went wide. Nylander gave Matthews a huge chance but he hit it off the heel of his stick.
Solid chance for Matthews— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
McDonagh gets in front of it pic.twitter.com/OiL4bxLPz7
Muzzin’s shot at the end of the power play nearly found its way in, too.
Spezza had a chance right away, but Vasilevskiy stopped him with a lunging glove save.
Another huge flurry of chances from everyone — Matthews, Bunting, Marner, Rielly, LYUBUSHKIN!?
Nick Paul got a third breakaway on Campbell, but Campbell stopped him for the third time.
Willy went flying driving hard to the net, and very nearly got the puck across the line.
Matthews hit Sergachev, deadening the play, but no penalty. Sergachev came back a shift later.
All of a sudden, the shots that were 4-14 became 18-21, and the game within one. All the chances were great, but it’s all about goals. Every missed chance means nothing. Just score in the third.
(All situations stats)
Shot Share: 25-13 (66%)
Shots on Goal: 14-9
Expected Goals: 79%
Tampa Bay got an early chance and Kämpf had to take a hooking penalty on Point. But 10 seconds in, Stamkos took a high sticking penalty on Brodie, sending the game to 4v4.
CAPTAIN MORGAN RIELLY TIES THE GAME FROM CAPTAIN JOHN TAVARES AND POWER FORWARD KING WILLIAM NYLANDER!!!!!!!!
MORGAN RIELLY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
CAPTAIN MORGAN! TIE GAME! JT WHAT A PLAY! pic.twitter.com/pBskugtVZ5
FROM ILYA MIKHEYEV, WILLY SHOOTS AND WILLY SCORES!!!! WILLIAM NYLANDER GIVES THE LEAFS THE LEAD!!!!!
The crowd, the call.
I passed out for a bit. I think my dad hugged me and told me he loved me.
Marner and Bunting nearly scored again. A whistle finally let everyone breathe.
McDonagh tied the game with a slapshot.
Campbell with a huge save on Kucherov. Kaše with a huge block on the rebound.
Giordano nearly scored the other way.
IT’S GOTTA BE MATTHEWS AND IT IS!!!!! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!!! WHAT A PASS OFF THE PADS OF VASILEVSKIY FROM MARNER, AND A TAP-IN FOR MATTHEWS!!!!!
Marner shoots for the rebound and Mattews makes no mistake pic.twitter.com/LlXSgCSMYm— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 11, 2022
Vasilevskiy left the net with 100 seconds left.
The Leafs nearly scored on the empty netter with 80 seconds left.
Holl got the puck out with 60 seconds left.
Matthews cleared the puck with 30 seconds left.
The Lightning iced the puck with 20 seconds left.
The Leafs won Game 5 with 0 seconds left.
Third Star: Jack Campbell
He deserves a higher star, but I couldn’t put him over the other two. An incredible effort, stopping 27 of 28 shots to keep the Leafs in the game and let the offense do their thing.
Second Star: Auston Matthews
Can’t talk about Matthews without talking about Marner, and wow they were both dominant tonight. They didn’t score until the end, but they were getting chances and owning the ice. They didn’t get frustrated, they kept on it, and they eventually came through.
First Star: William Nylander
Can’t talk about Nylander without talking about John Tavares. JT does so much work for the Leafs, takes on the worst matchups, and battles harder than anyone to keep the Leafs positive, and he was all of those things tonight next to the dynamism of Nylander. He’s not washed, he’s leading his team on the ice every shift.
As for Nylander himself, what more can you say beyond the primary assist on the first goal of the comeback — a goal I didn’t think would ever come — making the play on the tying goal for Rielly, and scoring the go-ahead goal as the crowd was going nuts. His drive to the net was King Leonidas levels of heroic. He was the best player on the ice every time he stepped on it.