The Toronto Maple Leafs lead their best-of-seven first-round series two games to one following their gutsy hard-fought 5-2 victory over the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Friday night. While it was not a picture-perfect game or as dominant a game as they had in their 5-0 win in Game 1, it was a nice bounce-back game following their 5-3 beatdown in Game 2.

The Maple Leafs did exactly what they had to do to win the game. They scored the first goal, which appears to be crucial in this series. The team that has scored first has won all three games. The Maple Leafs then added to that lead, with timely scoring, to build a 3-0 lead. Then they hung on from there.  

Game 3 Wasn’t a Pretty Win, But It Was a Win

It wasn’t a pretty win by any means. Although the Maple Leafs did an excellent job limiting the odd-man rushes, they still gave Tampa too many high-danger scoring chances. According to their game report, at five-on-five the Lightning had twelve high-danger scoring chances to the Maple Leafs’ three.

When we were looking over the stats for the game, we noticed something that makes us wonder what criteria some of them are based on. According to Naturalstattrick, in the first period, the Lightning had six high-danger chances at five-on-five while the Maple Leafs had none – zilch – zero. We would ask anyone to go back and look at Colin Blackwell’s goal that made the score 2-0 in the first period and then tell us how that would not be considered a high-danger scoring chance.

After falling behind 3-0, the Lightning scored two goals to pull within a goal with just over 14 minutes left. Suddenly, the game became interesting. Jack Campbell made some stellar saves in what might have been his best postseason game for the Maple Leafs, while Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev teamed up to score two empty-net goals to put the game away.