TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It was a must-win game for the Lightning Thursday night against the Maple Leafs with their season on the line—and they got the job done.
Brayden Point lifted the Bolts to a 4-3 victory in overtime to force a Game 7 in their first round Stanley Cup Playoff series with Toronto.
The game started with more than 16 minutes of five on five hockey, which we haven’t seen that much in a penalty-filled series. Ondrej Palat got the scoring going for the Lightning on a breakaway goal on four-on-four for his third goal of the postseason, giving the Lightning the 1-0 lead through the opening period.
The Bolts’ second goal came about halfway through the second, when Anthony Cirelli electrified the crowd with a shorthanded goal, making it a 2-0 lead for Tampa Bay. But similar to game five, the Bolts saw that two-goal lead slip away through a rough stretch they had in the second period, where Toronto heisted the momentum.
First it was Auston Matthews cutting it to 2-1, less than a minute after Cirelli’s goal. Then in the last 33 seconds of the second period, the Leafs scored not one, but two more goals– both from John Tavares– to take their first lead of the game, up 3-2 heading into the third.
About halfway through the third, Toronto was called for two high sticking penalties 16 second apart, giving the Bolts a huge opportunity on a five on three. Nikita Kucherov cashed-in on that two-man advantage to tie the game at three and give the Bolts new life. It stayed knotted at three through regulation, calling for the first overtime period of the series.
The Maple Leafs had a flurry of shots, which were greeted by some big-time saves from Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Then with less than two minutes left in the extra period, Brayden Point put-away the game winner to keep the Bolts’ season alive.
Point was the only Lightning player with a multi-point game, finishing with a goal and an assist, while Vasilevskiy finished with 30 saves.
The Lightning are now 18-0 after a playoff loss over the course of the last three postseasons.
With the series tied (3-3), Game 7 will be back in Toronto Saturday starting at 7 p.m.