Changing the narrative?

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have developed a bit of a recent reputation for choking in the playoffs during the Auston Matthews era. You could argue that it’s an oversimplified and not particularly fair narrative and while there’s absolutely merit to that argument, the fact remains that the onus is on the Maple Leafs to change that narrative. In sports, winning is the best response to criticism and Tuesday was a response game for Toronto following an ugly loss in Game 4.

It didn’t start out great. Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead and the Maple Leafs put themselves in some penalty trouble. Toronto dug themselves out of that hole though with their best players leading the charge. Auston Matthews scored the game-winning goal. John Tavares, who has taken a bit of heat over his lack of offensive production in the playoffs, had a goal and an assist. William Nylander provided a goal and two assists.

With that, the Maple Leafs have pushed the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning to the brink with Game 6 set to be played in Tampa Bay on Thursday. If needed the series will come back to Toronto for Game 7 on Saturday. The Maple Leafs have two chances to close out this series. They haven’t been able to do that in the past in the Matthews era. In 2019 they took a 3-2 series lead against Boston and lost. In 2021 they took a 3-1 series lead against Montreal and lost. If the Maple Leafs end up losing in this series, that will only add to the narrative that, unfair though it may be, that they can’t get it together in key games. If they win though, then the narrative changes and the Leafs would be going into the second round knowing that they’ve already vanquished an elite squad. From there, anything’s possible.

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CAROLINA 5 BOSTON 1 (Hurricanes leader series 3-2)

Tony DeAngelo took some heat during Game 4, but he responded last night. He scored the game-winning goal and registered two assists. That gives him a goal and eight points in five playoff contests.

Seth Jarvis scored a pair of goals for the Hurricanes. That gives him three goals and four points in five postseason games.

Vincent Trocheck found the back of the net and recorded two assists for Carolina. Teuvo Teravainen assisted on three of the Hurricanes’ five goals.

Connor Clifton accounted for the Bruins’ only goal. It was his first goal and point in five playoff games.

Jeremy Swayman stopped 33 of 37 Hurricanes shots. He has a 2-1-0 record, 2.68 GAA, and .911 save percentage in three playoff starts.

At the other end of the ice, Antti Raanta saved 33 of 34 shots. He’s 2-1-0 with a 1.96 GAA and .942 save percentage in four postseason games.

TORONTO 4 TAMPA BAY 3 (Maple Leafs lead series 3-2)

Though Tampa Bay did lead for most of the game, the contest went down to the wire with the game being tied 2-2 and 3-3 in the third frame. Auston Matthews scored the game winner at 13:54 and Toronto managed to hold on from there.

William Nylander scored a goal and registered two assists for the Maple Leafs. He has three goals and five points in five playoff contests.

Toronto also got a goal and an assist from John Tavares. That gives him a goal and four points in five postseason games.

Jack Campbell saved 32 of 35 Lightning shots. He has a 3-2 record, 3.41 GAA, and .895 save percentage in the first round series.

Steven Stamkos, Ryan McDonagh, and Victor Hedman provided the Lightning’s goals. Nikita Kucherov assisted on two of the Lightning’s three markers.

Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 21 of 25 Maple Leafs shots. He’s allowed at least three goals in every game of this series.

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ST. LOUIS 5 MINNESOTA 2 (Blues lead series 3-2)

Vladimir Tarasenko led the Blues with a hat trick. He’s up to four goals and five points in five playoff games.

Brandon Saad and Ryan O'Reilly provided the Blues’ other two goals. Pavel Buchnevich and Justin Faulk each registered two assists for St. Louis.

Jordan Binnington stopped 30 of 32 Wild shots. He’s started in two games now and played an important role in both wins.

Kirill Kaprizov was the only player to beat Binnington on Tuesday, doing so with a pair of power-play goals. That gives him seven goals and eight points in five playoff games.

Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 27 of 31 shots last night. He’s 2-3 with a 3.04 GAA and .906 save percentage in five playoff contests.

LOS ANGELES 5 EDMONTON 4 (OT) (Kings lead series 3-2)

Adrian Kempe was the hero of this contest with two goals, including the game winner, and registered an assist. He has two goals and five points in five playoff games.

Edmonton did managed to overcome 3-1 and 4-2 deficits to at least force overtime. Leon Draisaitl played an important role in that, scoring a pair of goals in the last 7:27 minutes of the third period. Connor McDavid also stepped up with a goal and two assists, but the Oilers still didn’t win.

Mike Smith stopped 38 of 43 Kings shots. Edmonton hasn’t been making things easy on him. He’s had to face at least 30 shots in every game of the 2022 playoffs so far. This was also the third straight game where he was bombarded with over 40 shots.

At the other end of the ice, Jonathan Quick turned aside 24 of 28 shots. Only one of the goals he allowed was scored at even strength. Edmonton scored two power play goals and also had a shorthanded marker.

Troy Stecher had a goal and an assist for the Kings. He has two goals and four points in two playoff games.