Hedman helps Lightning bounce back, defeat Maple Leafs in Game 2
Victor Hedman had a goal and three assists for the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.
The best-of-7 series is tied 1-1. Game 3 will be at Tampa Bay on Friday.
“A win is a win in the playoffs,” Hedman said. “I think we were a little more desperate and we battled hard, that’s the bottom line. On the power play, at 5-on-5, we did a pretty good job most of the night.
“We take it personal, that’s the bottom line. If you lose two in a row in the playoffs, it’s never good since it’s first to four. We go out there with the philosophy that we want to bounce right back, and today was another example of us doing that.”
Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the Lightning, who are the No. 3 seed from the Atlantic Division.
Tampa Bay, which lost 5-0 in Game 1, is 15-0 in the postseason following a loss since the beginning of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I don’t know how far teams go when their big guys aren’t going,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “You need them especially at times when your back is against the wall. I can’t say our back was against the wall, it was one game, but we needed them tonight and they stepped up, and it started with our goaltender. He was outstanding.”
Mitchell Marner had a goal and an assist, Auston Matthews had two assists, and Jack Campbell made 29 saves for the Maple Leafs, who are the No. 2 seed from the Atlantic.
“I thought they played better,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That’s really the team that we prepared for. Obviously, the difference in the game was special teams. At 5-on-5 it was a pretty even hockey game. Their power play was better. We took too many penalties.”
Hedman put the Lightning ahead 1-0 at 19:57 of the first period with a power-play goal. Alex Killorn’s shot deflected to Hedman near the right post, and he waited out Campbell until he slid out of position.
Vasilevskiy made a glove save on Timothy Liljegren from the slot at 1:26 of the second period to keep Tampa Bay in front.
“That’s what you have to overcome to get to where we want to get to,” Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said. “There’s times when it goes great like Monday, when we really executed and everything was unflappable and we played a pretty darn good game. We had a pretty good first period (tonight), and obviously a tough break (on Hedman’s goal) and then their goalie makes a good save.”
Corey Perry made it 2-0 at 2:21 when he shot five-hole on Campbell on a breakaway after receiving a stretch pass from Hedman.
“It was probably maybe a little sigh of relief for our group (Hedman’s goal), kind of trying to take the crowd out of it a little bit,” Cooper said. “For me, the big one was the second one. It’s all well and good to score one and then they tie it, but we get that second one and now you’re making them chase.”
Michael Bunting cut the lead to 2-1 at 7:47, one-timing a pass in the slot from Marner after Matthews forced a turnover in the corner by Ryan McDonagh.
Bunting was playing in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game after he missed Game 1 and Toronto’s final three regular-season games with a knee injury.
Nikita Kucherov pushed it to 3-1 at 9:57 when he shot glove side from the top of the right circle on the power play. David Kampf had a chance to clear the puck, but Hedman kept it in at the blue line and passed to Kucherov.
Brandon Hagel made it 4-1 at 1:33 of the third period, putting in his own rebound at the top of the crease, and Brayden Point scored a power-play goal at 5:38 to extend it to 5-1.
Tampa Bay was 3-for-7 on the power play after going 0-for-5 in Game 1.
“Too many penalties,” Marner said. “Giving their power play so many opportunities, I mean, eventually they’re going to score. They’ve got a lot of skill, they’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays. We’re giving up a lot of opportunities on the power play. We have to just stay out of the box, make sure we are playing 5-on-5.”
Marner cut it to 5-2 at 11:53 with a shot through a screen.
Alexander Kerfoot brought the Maple Leafs to within 5-3 at 15:43 when he took a drop pass from TJ Brodie, who was on a partial breakaway, and shot blocker side for a shorthanded goal.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 5, 2022