Maple Leafs lastly win recreation they need to have misplaced

It’s nearly at all times futile to search for “indicators” or “omens” in playoff hockey. The subsequent bounce off somebody’s ass doesn’t actually care what occurred earlier than, and apparently, this season, neither will the subsequent name the ref misses however nonetheless manages to depart your D-man maimed, and the opposing ahead an open path to your web.

However that doesn’t cease followers, particularly tortured ones (if solely in their very own thoughts), from in search of something which may point out a change in fortunes. If you happen to’re a Maple Leafs fan, you’ll drink any type of sand within the desert. And yesterday’s comeback win over the Lightning that gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead within the collection is an particularly tasty little bit of sand.

Make no mistake, the Leafs have been horrible for a lot of the 79 minutes of Sport 3. They have been completely outshot, out-attempted, and out-chanced by the Lightning. Ilya Samsonov got here out extraordinarily jumpy in web and seemed like he was making an attempt to make three saves without delay. They handled the puck prefer it was some energetic rodent, and their gradual (and getting slower) protection was snowed in by the Lightning for essentially the most half.

The numbers are ugly. At even energy, the Lightning had 65 % of the makes an attempt. That they had 64.5 % of the anticipated targets. That they had 63 % of the scoring probabilities. In Video games 1 and three, the Lightning have feasted on the Maple Leafs’ want for his or her forwards to do nearly all the pieces. Aside from yesterday’s hero Morgan Rielly, the Leafs’ defensive corps can not create sufficient time for themselves to finish a go, a lot much less take part any offensive rush, or possession. The Leafs are depending on their forwards to hold the puck 170 toes or extra to rise up the ice. Particularly yesterday, that has performed proper into Tampa’s strangulation 1-1-3 defensive plan.

They shouldn’t be main, however they’re

And but… the Leafs lead the collection. They discovered a approach, which isn’t a sentence one ever writes in regards to the Leafs, no less than not in a optimistic vogue. Their star gamers simply pulled them out of it. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews created a turnover and havoc within the Lightning zone, and finally the previous discovered the latter for a tip to attain to offer them a 2-1 lead within the first that would have, and will have, gotten away from them. Ryan O’Reilly tied the sport with lower than a minute to go. And Rielly, the one blue-liner on the Leafs who doesn’t appear like he’s skating by way of poisonous waste, floated in the overtime winner.

These 4 gamers additionally occur to be Toronto’s main scorers by way of the primary three video games, the place the Lightning have been extra paced by their depth gamers like Cory Perry, or Anthony Cirelli. Tampa can take coronary heart from that as a result of their stars are more likely to chip in in a giant approach sooner or later, however they’re additionally beginning to run a bit of quick on time. They will additionally take heard that within the two video games Victor Hedman has performed, they’ve largely rolled the Leafs apart from a 3rd interval in a Sport 1 that was already determined. The Leafs haven’t any such participant on their again finish who simply calms issues down.

And but…they lead 2-1. Sure, they have been right here simply final yr. They even led 3-2 final yr and went into additional time with an opportunity to finish it. They didn’t. That they had Andrei Vasilevskiy trying a bit of shaky then, simply as they do now. However this Lightning crew, with the exceeding mileage on it with yet one more deep run from final spring added to it, in all probability isn’t as able to as many dominant performances because it as soon as was. It simply wasted one among them.

It’s by no means a good suggestion to get on the Leafs bandwagon. It smells and it has a brackish clientele. But it surely’s nonetheless rolling, which after yesterday, is one thing of a brand new trick.