TAMPA, Fla. – Ross Colton scored twice, Andrei Vasilevskiy had 22 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning got off to a fast start and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 in Game 4 on Sunday night to even their first-round playoff series.
Steven Stamkos, Pierre Edouard Bellemare and Pat Maroon scored in the first eight minutes against Game 3 star Jack Campbell in the opening period, setting the tone for a long night for the Toronto goalie coming off a stellar performance two nights before.
Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat also scored, and Brandon Hagel and Nikita Kucherov each had two assists for the Lightning.
Vasilevskiy improved to 17-0 in games following a playoff loss over the past three postseasons for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
William Nylander scored twice and Jake Muzzin also had a goal for the Maple Leafs. Campbell gave up five goals on 16 shots before being replaced in the second period by Erik Kallgren, who stopped all 10 shots he faced.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Toronto.
Tampa Bay put the finishing touches on a dominant performance with empty-net goals by Palat and Colton in the final 5:20.
The Lightning felt they self-destructed in losses in Games 1 and 3, spending far too much time in the penalty box against a team that had the NHL’s top-ranked power play during the regular season.
They were all over the Maple Leafs from the start Sunday night, with Stamkos beating Campbell from just inside the blue line exactly one minute into the game. Bellemare and Maroon followed with goals over the next seven minutes to build the lead to 3-0.
Things only got uglier from there for Toronto, which pulled Campbell after Colton scored from the slot, and Perry — with Kucherov and Brayden Point picking up assists — delivered on a 5-on-3 power play for a 5-0 lead at 5:25 of the second period.
The five-goal deficit would have been bigger if not for the play of Toronto ’s penalty-killing unit. Tampa Bay was 1 of 7 on the power-play through two periods and finished 1-of-8. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, were 0 for 2 in man-advantage situations before finally breaking through against Vasilevskiy with the first of Nylander’s two goals at 2:27 of the third.
Vasilevskiy and the Lightning once again slowed down Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner. Matthews had the primary assist on Nylander’s first goal, however the NHL’s leading goal-scorer during the regular season didn’t have a shot on goal until the third period.
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