“This group has proven that they know what it takes at this time of year, and we know how to respond,” Stamkus added. “Now that we’ve done it twice now in this series, let’s go out and grab the initiative. That should be the mindset.”
Ross Colton scored twice, Andrei Vasilevsky made 22 saves, and the Lightning made a quick start with three goals in the first eight minutes to deny the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead in their best of seven game. .
“We came in here and broke up… It’s a successful road trip in that sense,” said Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Cave, whose team won Game Three to regain their home ice advantage. “Whether you lose the game 2-1 or the way we did, it doesn’t matter. You wash it off and move on. We’ll be better next time.”
Stamkos, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Pat Maron scored against Game Three star Jack Campbell in the opening period, setting the tone for a long night for the Toronto goalkeeper after he put in a stellar performance two nights ago.
Corey Perry and Ondrej Balat scored, and Brandon Hagel and Nikita Kucheroff managed two passes in the lightning.
“When we play like this, we just have to find a way to do it in the next game,” Marron said. “We know we can do it. We know what works. And we know what works for our team.”
Vasilevskiy’s performance improved to 17-0 in matches after losing the playoff over the past three seasons to the Defensive Champions.
William Nylander scored twice and Jake Muzin also scored for the Maple Leafs. Campbell conceded five goals on 16 shots before being replaced by Eric Calgren in the second half, who stopped all 10 shots he faced.
“They scored off their first shot and they took it to us,” Campbell said. “For me, I just look in the mirror and learn what I did wrong.”
Tampa Bay put the finishing touches to a dominant performance with goals in the empty net by Balat and Colton in the 5:20 final.
The Lightning felt they ruined themselves in their losses in Game 1 and 3, spending a lot of time in the penalty area against a team that had the best performance in the NHL during the regular season.
They have been all over the Maple Leafs since the start on Sunday night, with Stamkos beating Campbell from inside the Blue Line exactly one minute into the game. Bellemare and Maron followed with two goals over the next seven minutes to build a 3-0 lead.
Things only got uglier from there for Toronto, which pulled Campbell after Colton scored from the holeshot, and Perry—with Kucheroff and Brayden Point assists—provided in a powerful 5-on-3 to advance 5-0 in the 5:25 second period.
The difference of five goals would have been greater if Toronto had not played on penalty kicks. Tampa Bay was 1 of 7 in the power game in two stints and finished 1 of 8. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs were zero to 2 in man advantage positions before finally breaking through against Vasilevskiy with two Nylander goals at 2:27 from the third.
Vasilevskiy and Lightning slowed again in Toronto’s Austin Matthews and Mitchell Marner. Matthews had a key assist in Nylander’s first goal, but the NHL’s leading scorer during the regular season didn’t have a shot on target until the third inning.
“We got off early and it’s hard to come back,” Muzin said. “Many sanctions. We have to prepare for the next blow.”
the first goal
The team that scored first wins every game in the series. There were no lead changes.
Sunday night marked the fourth time in the past three seasons that Lightning scored seven or more goals in a single game. The highest goal level in a post-season game is eight.
More from AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports