Toronto Just Win Away
Here we go again.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a win away from advancing to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s the same scenario the past four seasons in a row. Getting to this point has proven easier than sealing the deal.
Toronto was leading Montreal, 3-1, in 2021, lost the decisive fifth game to Columbus in 2020, led Boston, 3-2, in 2019, and rallied from a 3-1 deficit in 2018 before losing to Boston in seven. Toronto lost in “just” six games to Washington in the first round back in 2017.
Now, a come-from-behind team has Toronto on the verge of winning its first playoff series since 2004.
In a series where the first four games were decided by at least two goals, it was the Maple Leafs who emerged victorious Tuesday night in the first one-goal contest. Thursday night, the Leafs look to close it out against the two-time defending Cup champions.
There’s been significant movement in the Stanley Cup odds since Game 5. Toronto went from +1000 down to +650, while Tampa Bay’s odds increased from +1200 to +1800.
Matthews Delivers For Toronto
Auston Matthews set a franchise record with 60 goals during the regular season. However, none of those must have felt as good to the Hart Trophy candidate as the game-winner scored Tuesday night.
With no goals (and three assists) in his previous three games in the series, and managing just one shot on goal in a Game 4 loss earlier, Matthews picked the perfect time to break through. His goal with 6:06 left to play lifted Toronto to a 4-3 win. Now, the Maple Leafs need a win either Thursday or Saturday to eliminate Tampa.
“It’s a big win for us,” Matthews said after the game. “But there’s still work to be done.”
Magical execution! pic.twitter.com/Y56ZPbMcjD
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 11, 2022
Matthews moved to +1000 in the Conn Smythe Trophy odds. He trails only the Colorado Avalanche duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar.
Tampa Bay jumped out to leads of 5-1 and 5-0 after its first two losses in this series as the Leafs have been outscored, 4-0, in the first period of those games. Toronto will try to avoid falling down early, looking to advance after losing its last six playoff series.
Five of Toronto’s last six games have gone over the NHL betting lines total.
Lightning Have Rare Postseason Collapse
First-period goals by playoff veterans Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman had Tampa Bay in position to take its first lead in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Even when Toronto captain John Tavares halved that advantage in Game 5 with the lone goal in the second period, there was little cause for concern. Tampa Bay had been 28-2 since the start of the 2019-20 playoffs when leading after two periods. The Lightning had one regulation loss in the last two regular seasons when taking the lead into the final period.
The worst possible time to fail to hold onto a lead as Toronto scored twice in the third period, the latter coming on a goal by Auston Matthews with just over six minutes to play. Tampa Bay had six of the game’s last nine shots on goal after the Maple Leafs took the lead, but couldn’t solve Toronto goalie Jack Campbell.
Since their stunning first-round sweep at the hands of Columbus in the 2018 playoffs, the Lightning have played in just one elimination game, winning that contest, 1-0, against the New York Islanders in the 2021 Eastern Conference final.
Playing at home and the playoff experience combine to make the Lightning favored to extend the series.
Tampa failed to score on its last four power-play opportunities, and despite outshooting Toronto, 35-25, the Lightning trail in the series for a third time. Tampa Bay responded with wins after falling in Game 1 and Game 3.
The Las Vegas odds total has gone over six of Tampa Bay’s last seven games.
Maple Leafs vs Lightning Head-to-Head
The teams have been trading wins during the season, with both the Lightning and Maple Leafs winning once on the road. They have combined for at least seven goals in each of the last four games, despite ranking eighth and 11th, respectively, among the 16 playoff teams in power-play success.
The team scoring first had won the previous four games in the series before Toronto rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win Game 5.
Toronto has won four of its last six games in Tampa. The Maple Leafs are 4–0 in the last four one-goal contests against the Lightning.
This will be the 12th straight time that Tampa Bay will be favored at home against Toronto.
Odds of a 4-2 series win by the Maple Leafs dipped from +250 to even. Also, the Leafs winning in seven has a payout of +175, while Tampa Bay winning Games 6 and 7 is priced at +300.
Maple Leafs vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Maple Leafs (54-21-7 in the regular season); Lightning (51-23-8).
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
- Day/Time: Thursday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Maple Leafs vs Lightning Stream: NHL.TV
Maple Leafs vs Lightning Betting Lines
Maple Leafs vs Lightning Prediction
One of the keys to Tampa Bay winning back-to-back NHL titles has been taking command of playoff series. The Lightning faced elimination just once during those two championship runs.
The Lightning are 17-0 after a loss in the playoffs, and playing at home has them favored to extend the series.
The teams are a combined 6-for-30 on the power-play in the last three games, so if either gets things going with the man advantage, that could be the difference. There shouldn’t be a lack of opportunities, as the Tampa Bay-Toronto and Carolina-Boston series are tied for the most man-advantage chances with 52.
It is hard to pick against the two-time defending champions playing at home.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning (-125)
Pick: Toronto Maple Leafs +1½ Goals (-225)
Parlay: Tampa Bay Lightning (-125) & Toronto Maple Leafs +1½ Goals (-225) at +160