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Game 3 Recap: Maple Leafs hang on to take the series lead

A great start in the first period and some solid special teams was the difference

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s game three. Which means it’s the third straight must-win game for Toronto so far these playoffs.

GO LEAFS GO!

PERIOD ONE

Tampa gets a very good chance early, and Jack Campbell made a big save on Brayden Point.

Leafs get a powerplay after Pat Maroon shot the puck over the glass, good time to get an early goal. They got a couple of good chances early, AND CAPTAIN MORGAN ON THE REBOUND AFTER A FLURRY OF GREAT CHANCES IN TIGHT! LEAFS TAKE A HUGE 1-0 EARLY LEAD!!!!

Right after the goal, Jack Campbell made another real big stop after a turnover (and maybe penalty that wasn’t called) right in front forced him to deal with another point blank shot.

And the Leafs will go the penalty kill for the first time, after an Ilya Lyubushkin high stick will give Tampa a chance to tie it. Hoping for more of the Game One penalty kill than the Game Two penalty kill tonight... so far so good, as Marner and MIkheyev both do great jobs to get the puck out, in deep within Tampa’s end to kill more time. Jake Muzzin SAVED a goal in a frantic moment.

AND RIGHT AS LYUBUSHKIN GETS OUT OF THE BOX HE JOINS ENGVALL AND BLACKWELL ON A 3 ON 1 AND BLACKWELL SCORES IN A WIDE OPEN NET THANKS TO A BEAUTIFUL PASS BY LYUBUSHKIN JUST LIKE WE ALL EXPECTED! 2-0 LEAFS BABY!!

And the Leafs get a powerplay shortly after with a chance to take a huge lead still in the first period. It.... was not a great powerplay. They had one good chance early, then nothing the rest of the way.

Leafs hadn’t been great in the limited time at even strength, but man after the powerplay the third line went to WORK in Tampa’s end. Engvall and Kerfoot were wrestling in front, sometimes on the ice, and they had Tampa hemmed in for a solid minute. Toronto is outshooting Tampa heavily at this point — but almost entirely thanks to their powerplays. Jack has had to make about four or five really good saves from shots like this. Point in particular has had 2-3 of them.

Leafs end the period with a great offensive zone shift from the Matthews line, on a constant cycle, shot, retrieve, sequence. And of course the period ends with some extra curricular activities, from which I assume some penalties will be called to start the second. A good period all around for Toronto.

First Period Thoughts

Shot attempts: The period ends very close in shot attempts at even strength: 18-17 for Tampa, with the Leafs flipping that to 25-18 in all situations.

Expected goals: It was a similar situation in terms of quality. Tampa had 55% of the expected goal share at even strength, but Toronto had a 61% advantage when you go to all situations.

Special teams: The Leafs’ special teams on the powerplay and penalty kill were great in the first period. They scored their first goal on the powerplay, then gave Tampa NOTHING on the penalty kill. Even though their second goal wasn’t short handed, they scored it right after it expired. Second powerplay wasn’t great, but who cares at that point. You already have a 2-0 lead.

Standouts: Jack Campbell made some HUGE stops early, first right as the game started, then right after the first goal to keep the lead. Statistically, the fourth line and Tavares’ line are doing the best at driving play at even strength. But the first PP unit and all of the penalty killers get special props too. One pretty big concern is the Matthews line getting eaten alive at even strength by the Point/Cirelli/Killorn line.

Heatmap:

SECOND PERIOD

Hey I was right, though the only penalty that appears to have been called in the post-period scrum was Cernak. Leafs will begin the second with a powerplay. It didn’t start so well... as Marner blew a tire in the neutral zone which helped the Lightning get a short handed rush. With most of the penalty over, it looks like the Leafs will get a short 5 on 3 after the Lightning once again shot the puck over the glass. This one had to be reviewed by the refs. Didn’t seem to the matter, Tampa killed off both penalties when the Leafs could have taken a more commanding lead. Wasted opportunity there for Toronto.

DAVID KAMPF CANNOT BE STOPPED! HE SNIPES A WRIST SHOT PAST VASILEVSKIY’S BLOCKER! ASSIST TO LYUBUSHKIN FOR A BIG HIT RIGHT BEFORE THE LEAFS STARTED THE RUSH! 3-0 TORONTO LETS GO BABY!

That third line has been great this period.

Leafs go back to the penalty kill after Holl dragged Hagel to the ice on an odd man rush. Marner almost scored a GLORIOUS goal short handed...

But unfortunately Tampa came back the other way and scored late in the penalty. Kerfoot turned it over in the neutral zone when he had a chance to get it deep, and Tampa came back down, and set up Ross Colton for a hell of a shot. 3-1 Toronto now.

Leafs are going back to the powerplay after Palat hit Kase from behind. Time to restore the three goal lead! The first unit looked much better this time, with some good puck movement, chances, and retrievals to extend their possession. Marner came real close on a wrist shot that Vasy juuuuuuuuust got enough of to deflect it wide.

Tampa has been buzzing since killing off the penalty. Toronto has been hemmed in their own end a lot, and Ross Colton came THIS close to making it a one goal game after ringing it off the post.

The Leafs get out of the second period with the same lead they finished the first with: two goals up, now one period to go.

Second Period Thoughts

Shot attempts: At even strength, Tampa held a 13-9 edge in shot attempts. Once again, Toronto took a 19-17 lead in all situations thanks to their powerplay and penalty kill.

Expected goals: However, Tampa didn’t have as many quality scoring chances at even strength as they did in the first. Toronto held a narrow 51% edge in expected goals at 5v5, which increases to 58% in all situations.

Special teams: They had almost six minutes on the powerplay and no goal, and their two powerplays to start the period did not look great. But their final one had a couple of real good chances by Marner and Nylander. Even though they got scored on during their one penalty kill, Marner also had a very good scoring chance as well. Each team now has one goal on special teams, but Toronto’s has looked stronger.

Standouts: The third line of Mikheyev-Kampf-Kerfoot had a real strong period, in all situations. Giordano has been stellar at driving play, as has the Tavares line. The Matthews and Marner combo are still getting their lunch money stolen by Point’s line, but not to the same extent as the first.

Heatmap:

THIRD PERIOD

Keefe appears to be shifting the left wingers around to start the period, and was seen giving Matthews and Marner a pep talk on the bench.

Leafs have some great chances to start the period. Marner rings one off the post, and Auston Matthews got a glorious chance on a breakaway — two chances in fact — but couldn’t increase the lead to three.

Those missed chances may come back to haunt them, as Tampa scored after to make it a one goal game. Palat capitalizes on some chaos in the Leafs’ end to wrist one through Kase and over Campbell. 3-2 Toronto.

The game has gotten more tight now. Tampa is pressing, the Leafs are playing it pretty safe and defensive — words all Leafs’ fan fear to read in the playoffs. With around eight minutes left in the game, Tampa has yet to break through for the tying goal.

Jack Campbell has been making some REAL big saves this game, and he’ll have to keep doing that to preserve this lead. Especially since Tampa drew a penalty on the play and the Leafs will go to the PK.

JACK CAMPBELL WE ARE NOT WORTHY! WHAT A SAVE ON THE PENALTY KILL AGAINST A STAMKOS CROSS ICE ONE TIMER!

Campbell solo-carried the Leafs on that PK, but Ilya Mikheyev got a great chance on a breakaway. He’s no Kampf though, and couldn’t beat Vasy.

ILYA MIKHEYEV YOU BEAUTIFUL MAN! HE SCORES AN EMPTY NET GOAL WITH TWO MINUTES REMAINING! MIKHEYEV SCORES AGAIN IN THE EMPTY NET TO ICE IT! 5-2 LEAFS!

LEAFS WIN! LEAFS WIN!

Final Thoughts

It was a gutsy game. Tampa controlled the game slightly, but consistently at even strength. They started pushing more in the third, and/or the Leafs conceded them more space to play it safe. The third line was great, their penalty kill was great, but Jack Campbell was the difference maker. He made several HUGE saves when it mattered — at the start of the game while they built their lead, and down the stretch when Tampa had more chances to tie it.

A huge win for Toronto, who retake home ice advantage and have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead on Sunday.

Shot attempts: As you’d expect with Toronto engaging Turtle Mode, Tampa pushed harder in the third. They had an 18-7 edge in shot attempts at 5v5, and 26-11 in all situations.

Expected goals: But Toronto’s defense actually did a decent job at 5v5 keeping things from being too dangerous, as Tampa only had 52% of the expected goal share. The one powerplay Tampa had tilted things a bit more.

Special teams: The powerplay made the game feel closer than it was, as their top unit for the most part looked very dangerous. The penalty kill gave up a goal, but looked very strong. Jack had to bail them out in the final one, but they were much better than they were in game two.

Standouts: Jack Cambpell. Jack Campbell. And more Jack Campbell. Easily the first star for me. Kampf’s line gets a nod for their great work, and contributing the game winning goal and two empty netters to seal the deal.

Heatmap:

BUDS ALL DAY!