Skip to content

Toronto Maple Leafs beat the odds to win game 3 in overtime

Take Series Lead and Home Ice Advantage
Toronto Maple Leafs | Photo by Luis Fallas on Unsplash
Toronto Maple Leafs | Photo by Luis Fallas on Unsplash

Now that's a playoff win.

After an embarrassing performance in game 1 earlier this week, where the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 7-3, and a virtually mistake-free game 2 (that saw the Leafs defeat the Lightning 7-2), Saturday night's match is what you should expect going forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto's victory is the definition of what it takes to win in the playoffs and what it means never to give up in a game - even if the odds are not in your favour.

With the Leafs losing home-ice advantage after their loss in game 1, they were counted out by so many headed into this game, but the players in that locker room would not be denied.

The team opened the scoring with a great play by rookie Matthew Knies as he set up Noel Acciari for the first goal under five minutes into the game.

Once Tampa was able to tie the game, Toronto came right back with their big line, and Auston Matthews made a magnificent play to tip a Mitch Marner point shot, giving the Leafs the lead again.

When Tampa tied the game on a strange goal, you felt the momentum shift in the Lightning's favour. Tampa Bay came out and dominated the second period, yet Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov kept the Leafs in the game until Darren Raddyish scored to put the Lightning up 3-2.

But in the third period, both teams let their emotions get the best of them.

After Morgan Reilly laid a hit on Brayden Point, he awkwardly landed into the boards and needed to be helped off the ice.

Both teams began to grab each other, and everyone started wrestling each other to the ground. It got so out of hand that Steven Stamkos fought Auston Matthews.

Yes, you read that right! Steven Stamkos and Auston Matthews fought each other. Their fight became the first fight between two 60-goal scorers.

After the dust settled, Toronto was awarded a powerplay that they did not score on. The seconds started to tick down, and all Leaf fans knew the all-too-familiar feeling we were in store for: the team played hard and battled to the end, but at the end of the day, Tampa was just better, and the Leafs would end up coming up just short.

But not this Leafs team.

After Samsonov went to the bench, William Nylander sent a puck on the net, and Ryan O'Reilly jammed it past former Vezina trophy winner Andrei Vasilevsky to tie the game for the Leafs.

That sequence was something we have learned not to expect in Maple Leaf playoff games, but this time they scored a greasy playoff-style goal to send the game to overtime.

Overtime has been a playoff nemesis for the Leafs in recent years: they haven't won a playoff overtime game since 2020.

Their last overtime game was on the Tampa Bay ice, where Toronto lost 4-3 in game 6 when they had a chance to win the series and move on.

This year, however, is not like last year.

Although Tampa had the majority of the high-danger chances and outshot the Leafs 8-5, Samsonov held off the Tampa shooters, and towards the end of the period, Toronto started to pour on the pressure.

Toronto's Justin Holl threw a puck on net from the right side, and it somehow beat everyone in front except for the post.

As this reporter was screaming at the hockey gods for inevitably screwing over the Leafs one more time, something amazing happened.

Just over 30 seconds later, Ryan O'Reilly wins the face-off back to Morgan Rielly. He throws the puck on net from the left side identically to Justin Holl, and it somehow beat Vasilevsky and the Leafs win the game.

This was a statement win by the Leafs; they came into a hostile environment as the clear underdogs and were not the better team for most of the game.

But when it came down to the crucial plays of the game, needing a big save, needing a key goal, needing to kill a penalty, the Leafs stepped up to the challenge and beat Tampa where it mattered.

A gritty and well-deserved win by this Leafs team that never gave up and played until the final shot of the game. 

Toronto now holds home-ice advantage again and goes up 2-1 in the series. The Leafs look to grab a stranglehold on the series on Monday, where they can potentially go up 3-1.

Game 4 is set for 7 p.m. on Monday, April 24.