The Toronto Maple Leafs faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round at the Scotiabank Arena and boy, did they bring their A-game! The best-of-7 series was tied 1-1 and the Leafs were looking to make a statement. And they did just that, winning 7-2 against the defending champs!
John Tavares was the man of the match as he scored a hat trick for the Maple Leafs, his first ever in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “Any time you get a hat trick and especially one in the playoffs, it’s pretty cool,” Tavares said in a post-game interview. “Obviously I got rewarded from some great plays from my teammates, starting with Morgan Rielly who had a heck of a night. Any time you can contribute, find a way to get three, it’s always positive to do that and just a sign of the group and how everyone is playing well together.”
And speaking of Morgan Rielly, he was on fire last night with four assists, tying a Maple Leafs playoff record for most assists in a game. Mitchell Marner also had a great game, with two goals and an assist, and Ilya Samsonov made 20 saves for the Leafs.
The Lightning did manage to score twice, with goals from Ian Cole and Corey Perry, but it was not enough to overcome the onslaught from the Leafs.
Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe was elated with his team’s performance and said, “It was a great response, couldn’t ask for a better start. To earn the power play to begin with and to shoot it in the net right away like that, I thought just our overall focus and execution I thought was really sharp tonight in that first period. We needed a response tonight in a big way, they took it to us pretty good the other night, and we needed to have a good day today and we did. So now we have a series. We’ll get out on the road and have to play even better than we did tonight.”
The series now moves to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Saturday, and you can bet both teams will be bringing their A-game once again. It’s going to be a thrilling matchup, so don’t miss it!