The Toronto Maple Leaf’s defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in overtime after rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the third period. Thanks to two goals from star player Auston Matthews in the 3rd and a goal from Morgan Rielly to send the game to overtime before Alexander Kerfoot scored the game-winner to give the Maple Leaf’s three games to one series lead. Toronto now finds itself one win away from moving on to the second round, a feat they haven’t done since 2004 when everyone on the team was still in school.
Photo Cred: NHL
Since drafting Auston Matthews in the 2016 draft, they have made the playoffs every year, and outside of the 2016-17 playoffs vs the Washington Capitals, the Leaf’s were close to winning the series but never got the job done. Every series they have played in have gone to 7, except for the 19-20 playoffs. They were in a best-of-5 qualifying round and lost in Game 5, so they only needed to win one game but could not do so.
Photo Cred: NHL.com
However, they have won three games early in a series 3 of the previous four years, but their opponents fought back and won the series in 7. The example came in the 2020-21 Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, where Toronto led the series 3-1 but lost two straight games in overtime and Game 7 in regulation. So, with all the pressure on their shoulders, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s are coming back home for Game 5, where they can not only defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning, who not only eliminated them last year but have been in the Stanley Cup Finals three straight seasons and winning two straight from 19-20 to 20-21. A first-round win for the Leaf’s and their fans could be equivalent to winning the Stanley Cup due to how much hardship and torture it has given them.
Photo Cred: NHL.com
Unfortunately, that is only one of the many demons the Maple Leaf’s need to conquer to allow the fan base to heal. The other demons the Maple Leaf’s need to overcome are the Boston Bruins. They eliminated them in two of the six playoff series and responsible for a ton of the torment the Maple Leaf fans deal with. The other is not only playing in the Stanley Cup Finals but winning the Stanley Cup.
The Stanley Cup will be the final and overcome because the Leaf’s have the longest drought for appearing and winning the Cup at 55 years. It will also require them to go against the best teams in the league to earn the hardest trophy to win it all. But first, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s must defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Playoffs.