The hockey gods obviously have a grudge against the Maple Leafs. On Saturday at Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto squad once again failed in their quest to advance to the second round of the playoffs, losing Game 7 of their first-round series 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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The Ontario organization thus extended its streak of seasons without winning a series, which dates back to 2004. It was also the ninth time that they had the opportunity to eliminate an opponent in their last five playoff runs. They failed on each of those occasions, including in Games 6 and 7 against the Florida side.
Nothing to calm the ardor of Toronto fans, the referees even refused a goal to John Tavares in the second period. Circling in enemy territory with the puck, the Maple Leafs captain beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with a shot into the top corner, but the referees immediately disallowed the goal, they who had called a penalty against Justin Holl, the sound of the whistle being buried by the crowd.
The crowd favorites ran out the punishment, however, and Morgan Rielly set the record straight soon after. This success, however, turned out to be the only one for Sheldon Keefe's men, who came up against a Vasilevskiy in full possession of his means. The Russian keeper stopped 30 of 31 shots aimed at him.
Dream scenario for Nick Paul
Obtained from the Ottawa Senators the day before the trade deadline, Nick Paul is making his first career appearance in the playoffs. The striker will remember his first ultimate game for a long time, but also his first goals, he who opened his counter by scoring the only two nets of his team.
The 27-year-old opened the hostilities in the first period, jumping on a return throw from Ross Colton.
In the second period, he made defenseman T.J. Brodie look bad by maneuvering close to him, before beating Jack Campbell with a sharp shot. The masked man will not have much to reproach himself for, he who made 23 parades in defeat.
Jon Cooper's men, however, lost Brayden Point in the first half. The attacker strangely fell on the ice, before writhing in pain. He attempted a comeback in the second period, but only made a presence of about twenty seconds before abdicating.
In the second round, the Lightning will be entitled to a battle of Florida, who will face the Panthers.