Toronto looks to grab a 3-1 series stranglehold: Leafs Tailgate
Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga7 months ago
Make no mistake about it: Tonight’s a swing game.
Either the Leafs will grab a 3-1 series stranglehold, or the Lightning will square things up at two and set up a best-of-3 to decide matters.
At any rate, all eyes will be on Amalie Arena in Tampa tonight as the Leafs visit the Lightning for Game 4.
36 hours after the fact, the city of Toronto is still buzzin’ over the OT thriller on Saturday night. It’s just that they don’t usually win those games, so when they do, you can’t help but jacked up. Of course, bloody nose and all, Morgan Rielly potted the winner late in the first OT to give Toronto a 4-3 victory and a 2-1 series lead. What a legendary moment, and what a legendary image!
Meantime, following his nasty collision with Rielly in Game 3, Jon Cooper labeled Brayden Point as a game-time decision tonight but he said he’ll probably play.
TIME: 7:30 ET (CBC, Sportsnet)
TOR Ilya Samsonov – CONFIRMED (2-1-0, 3.70, 0.878)
TBL Andrei Vasilevskiy – CONFIRMED (1-1-1, 4.22, 0.853)
3 KEYS TO VICTORY:
Through three games, the team that has scored first has ended up winning all three times. I don’t know about you, but data is data. In Game 2, it was Mitch Marner who set the tone. In Game 3, it was Noel Acciari. I don’t care who it is, it’s important to pop that first one and jump on Tampa as quickly as possible. If Toronto can win tonight – and it’s a big if – they’ll have up to three shots at eliminating the Bolts. Just keep playing your game, and you’ll be okay.
GET TO VASILEVSKIY
As things go on here, the Leafs have to be cognizant of the fact that traditionally, Andrei Vasilevskiy gets better and better as a series goes on. With that in mind, I think it’s important to continue getting in his grill and making life difficult for him. If you can believe it, the Leafs have now scored three or more goals on the future Hall-of-Famer in nine of their 10 playoff meetings since Game 1 last year. Honestly, considering what he’s done over the past few years, that’s pretty damn impressive. Now’s the time to go in for the kill shot.
Call me crazy but I think the Matthew/Stamkos spat could end up being a bit of a galvanizing moment in the series for the Maple Leafs. Regardless of how you feel about Auston Matthews semi-fighting, you can’t argue with what kind of shockwaves that could send through a room. You see one of your star players battling it out, you can’t help but get fired up. At the very least, the Leafs have shown all series long that they’re more than willing to step up to Tampa when needed. They’re not intimidated in the slightest. I call that the Luke Schenn effect.
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