Revisiting the playoffs: Leafs at Lightning Game 3

This is the third post in a series that covers last season’s Leafs-Lightning series, in anticipation of the two meeting up for a second consecutive season.

By now we’ve established a few themes of this series: the Leafs are having trouble generating scoring chances off the rush, and Tampa’s forecheck and down-ice pressure is really stopping the Leafs from getting controlled entries into the Lightning end and converting those into shots.

The other thing is that Tampa’s powerplay is lethal when it’s allowed to set up. The Leafs have generally kept that from happening, but in Game 2 the Lightning converted for three powerplay goals. In Game 3, we saw more of the same, with the Lightning generating two scoring chances in just 30 seconds spent set up in the attacking zone. The difference was that they only spent 30 seconds set up in formation out of the 5:28 of 5v4 time they had.

What did I remember about this game before I started watching? I remember the speed plays made by Engvall and Mikheyev at the end, resulting into two empty net goals and nullifying a pretty convincing Lightning comeback attempt. After the Leafs took a 3-0 lead, Tampa really controlled play, and it wasn’t until a penalty kill midway through the third period that the Leafs settled down defensively (like that 10-7 Detroit game from earlier in the season, I felt confident as we went on the PK that we’d lock it up at that point).

As we get into the microstatistics, we’ll start to see another area where the Lightning establish their dominance over the Leafs, and a reason it may be a bigger problem this season.

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Other posts in the series:

Game 1
Game 2

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