Two-time champions Tampa Bay Lightning kept their hopes up for a three-time win, and the Toronto Maple Leafs suffered another disappointment in Game Seven with a 2-1 loss at home on Saturday night.
Possession of the trading deadline Nick Paul scored twice and goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevsky, who conceded at least three goals in the first six games of the first round series, was outstanding, saving 30 balls to give Lightning his ninth win in a row.
But the Lightning team also suffers a worrisome injury as they prepare to take on the top seed at the Florida Panthers in the second round.
Forward Brayden Point descended from the ice in the first period, unable to put weight on his leg after an embarrassing fall.
Surprisingly, Point came out for the second time. But he came out in one shift and it’s clear he’s still struggling. He skated off the bench and stayed there and was not on the ice for the rest of the game.
“When Pointer was injured, he seemed to lock up the entire team,” said Lightning coach John Cooper, who had no update on the star after the match. “I don’t think we looked back after that.”
If Point can’t make its way to the beginning of the next series, it will be difficult for Lightning. The overtime winner scored in Game 6 and led the Lightning team with 14 goals during both Stanley Cup rounds.
The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004, and this was probably their best chance after they finished with a franchise record of 115 points.
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Austin Matthews has scored 60 goals this season and Mitch Marner has 97 points. Michael Bunting is the first place winner in this year’s finalists. William Nylander and Alexander Kervot had career years. The Maple Leafs beefed up their defense with Mark Giordano and Ilya Lyubushkin ahead of the deadline. Goalkeeper Jack Campbell, who suffered a mid-season struggle, made a strong comeback in April after injury.
The Maple Leafs won 5-0 in Match 1, but Lightning continued their playoff trend after losing with a win (now 17-0). He led Toronto with a goal in the third inning of Game 6, but Tampa Bay forced overtime into a 5v3 goal.
In Game 7, Jon Tavares’ second-half goal was turned away due to an interference call to Justin Hall. Morgan Riley finally got back in the game, but Paul scored just over three minutes later.
We never gave them a chance to gain any momentum,” Cooper said.
Vasilevskiy stopped all 17 third-half shots by Toronto, and there were several blocked shots.
“We’re sick and tired of feeling like this, so we have to make sure we’re ready for next season,” Marner said.
Conor McDavid lifts the Oilers into the second round
Edmonton Oilers star Conor McDavid continued to dominate the first round with an impressive goal.
He pulled out a penalty as he lunged toward the net, retrieved the puck and tried to turn around. Frustrated there, he drifted off the net and fired a backhand ball past Jonathan Quick.
McDavid also assisted in Cody Cisse’s opening goal in a 2-0 victory for the Oilers. He leads the playoffs with 14 points.
It’s too early to decide the future, says Patrice Bergeron
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron took the time to hug his teammates as they broke off the ice after losing 3-2 in Game 7 to the Carolina Hurricanes.
But if it was a sign that the suspended unrestricted free agent was saying goodbye, it wasn’t, he said.
“It’s always hard when it ends like this, so it was best to share it with them and thank them for fighting together basically every day. It hurts and it’s not the feeling you want, but that being said, we did it together,” he told reporters.
Bergeron said it was too early to make a decision about his future.
“It’s so fresh now,” he said. “It’s still obviously stung by a hard-earned chainsaw and we’ve come up with a mansion. Obviously I should have thought about it, but I’m not around now.”
Bergeron won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and won the Silk Cup (Best Defensive Striker) four times and reached the Final six more times.
Bruins striker Brad Marchand described Bergeron as the backbone of the team.
“We want him back, but whatever happens, he’s got the right to make whatever decision he wants and take the time he needs,” he said. “I guess time will tell.”
Kings striker Dustin Brown has already announced he is retiring, and Sunday’s loss to the Oilers was his last NHL game.
Brown played in 1,295 regular season games during his 18 seasons with the Kings. He was the team captain when Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.
NHL decides not to penalize Nikita Zadorov of Flames for hitting
The Calgary Flames will have powerful defender Nikita Zadorov available for Game 7 against the Dallas Stars on Sunday after NHL Player Safety acquitted him of hitting Luke Glendening.
“While there was significant head contact in this play, Zadorov took an appropriate angle of approach, did not extend outwards or upwards, and struck Glendening’s heart,” the department said after a hearing. “Therefore, under Rule 48-1(i), it is determined that principal contact is unavoidable.”
Zadorov has assists, 18 hits and 20 minutes of penalty kicks in the qualifying rounds.