Leafs lay an egg in penalty-filled Game 1 loss with a possible Bunting suspension looming: Muzzy’s Muzings
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga1 month ago
Well, that was a hot steaming pile of garbage.
Brayden Point scored twice as Tampa went a ridiculous 4-for-8 on the power play on route to a 7-3 beatdown of the Maple Leafs in Game 1 of their first round rematch on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Corey Perry and Nikita Kucherov each chipped in with a goal and two helpers while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 stops for his 64th career postseason victory. Furthermore, 11 different Lightning players notched at least a point in the rout.
Believe it or not, the Bolts, who’ve been to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals, led 3-0 after one. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare kicked off the scoring just 1:18 into the series. Nevertheless, the Leafs scored a pair of power play goals to make it a 3-2 game at the 13:11 mark of the second period, but that’s as close as they would get.
Point’s first of the night made it 4-2. Then, just moments after that, Michael Bunting received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Tampa’s Erik Cernak. For all intents and purposes, that was effectively it for Sheldon Keefe’s squad on the night
Of note, Tampa lost Victor Hedman, Cernak and Mikey Eyssimont due to injury.
Making his eighth career playoff start, Ilya Samsonov got the mercy pull after 40 surrendering six goals on 29 shots. In his postseason debut, Joseph Woll allowed one goal on five shots. Also, no debate to be had here..it should be Samsonov for Game 2.
Mitch Marner tallied three helpers, Auston Matthews had two.
Tampa leads the series 1-0.
Also, just a reminder that Toronto grabbed the opener, 5-0, last spring.
Take a deep breath, folks.
WORST START IMAGINABLE
Leave it to game No. 83 to have your worst first period of the season. Hell, they were booed off the ice in all three periods. And honestly, understandably so. From puck drop, the Leafs looked (and crowd) like a nervous wreck. They were terrible. It all started with the Zach Aston-Reese giveaway that led directly to the opening goal; it set the tone for the entire opening 20 and quite frankly, for the rest of the night as well. After that, Toronto looked shell-shocked, and just for good measure, the period culminated with Nikita Kucherov’s PP tally with seconds remaining on the clock. In fact, Tampa scored two buzzer beaters on the night. The good news: It was just the first period of the first game, but holy scar tissue. Plenty of hockey ahead. No need to overreact.
PARADE TO THE PENALTY BOX
I should preface by saying that very seldom am I anti-ref guy. I don’t envy their jobs, that’s for sure. Having said that, there’s no question the officials lost control of the game early and never recovered it. We’re all human. Make no mistake about it, they had a tough night —on both sides of the ledger. No one’s perfect. It’s the playoffs; I want the players to decide the game, not the officials. On that note, it’s also unjust to pin that loss solely on the zebras. Let’s not lose sight of the truth: The Leafs lost the game when they didn’t show up for the first period —plain and simple. You can’t chase the game against a team like Tampa and expect to win.
COULD BUNTING BE FACING A POSSIBLE SUSPENSION?
In case you missed it, Michael Bunting received a 5-minute match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Tampa’s Erik Cernak late in the second period.
We’ve been talking all season about Bunting toeing the line. In this scenario, he definitively crossed it. That was the right call. If you don’t think it was, I’m not sure what game you were watching. On top of that, his reputation precedes him, so there’s no shot he’ll be getting the benefit of the doubt from the league either. Unfortunately, on top of that, you have to think Bunting will get at least a hearing for that hit —and a subsequent suspension, too. Any way you slice it, he messed up. His emotions got the best of him. It’s less than ideal but all the Leafs can do now is pick up their teammate and deal with the repercussions. Next man up.
NOT FAIR TO HANG IT ON SAMSONOV
Without question, that was a mercy pull if I’ve ever seen one. He probably would’ve liked to have the Corey Perry one back, but all things being equal, I’m not sure it’s fair to place much blame on Ilya Samsonov. He’ll be fine, and so will the Leafs. Simply put, the team in front of him was a zoo, especially in the first period. They didn’t show up. Essentially, he was hung out to try. Over the course of a series, that will happen from time to time. I mean, they weren’t going to sweep them. Who cares if the score was 7-3 or 8-0? A loss is a loss. Just look at what happened in Game 1 last season.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
Coming up on Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena, the Leafs will host the Lightning for Game 2. Tampa leads the series 1-0.
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