STORY CONTINUES BELOW THESE SALTWIRE VIDEOS
By Steve Keating
TORONTO (Reuters) – Captain John Tavares scored his first postseason hat-trick because the Toronto Maples Leafs avenged a Recreation One rout with a 7-2 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, leveling the opening spherical Stanley Cup playoff best-of-seven collection at 1-1.
Leafs followers had their fingers on the panic button after a 7-3 loss to the Lightning on Tuesday, booing the group off the ice.
However they had been rapidly again on the bandwagon on Thursday, showering their males with thunderous cheers as they head off to Tampa Bay for Video games Three and 4 on Saturday and Monday.
“We wanted a response tonight in an enormous means,” stated Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. “They took it to us fairly good the opposite evening.
“We wanted to have a superb day as we speak. We did.”
The oddsmakers are backing Toronto to win the best-of-seven collection however historical past favors the Lightning, who’ve gained seven consecutive playoff collection after taking the primary sport.
The Leafs have dropped 5 straight after a Recreation One loss.
One factor is definite, unhealthy blood is boiling.
Thursday’s contest turned nasty proper from the beginning with the Leafs’ Mark Giordano and Tampa Bay robust man Zach Bogosian dropping the gloves to struggle early within the opening interval.
Having completed the common season with the league’s fourth greatest document expectations had been excessive coming into the postseason that the Leafs would, on the very least, win a playoff collection, one thing they haven’t managed for 19 years and simply possibly finish a 56-year Stanley Cup drought.
They usually confirmed in Recreation Two why they’re among the many favorites, their greatest gamers stepping up when it mattered.
Tavares netted a hat-trick, set-up man Mitch Marner added a brace and Morgan Rielly tied a franchise playoff document with 4 factors for a defenseman.
The Lightning, who’ve been to the finals every of the final three seasons, successful the Cup twice, had laid the foundations for his or her 7-3 Recreation One win with a 3-0 opening interval, sparked by a primary aim simply 78 seconds after the opening faceoff.
The Leafs used that very same playbook on Thursday, storming to a 3-0 first interval lead with Marner scoring simply 47 seconds into the competition on Toronto’s first shot.
Tavares and William Nylander additionally discovered the again of the web to enter the intermission 3-0.
Ian Cole bought the guests on the board within the second interval earlier than Tavares, Marner and Zach Aston-Reese blew out the rating to 6-1.
Tavares accomplished his hat-trick within the third whereas Corey Perry scored for Tampa Bay.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Enhancing by Peter Rutherford)