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About 18 minutes into the overtime period, Tampa Bay finally got a break.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates after scoring pat Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) during sudden-death overtime in Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews stumbled at center ice allowing for the Lightning to get control of the puck. Tampa Bay forward Brandon Hagel managed to get the puck to Brayden Point in front of goaltender Jack Campbell and Point slid the puck underneath Campbell for the game-winner.
It was a bit of a redemption play for Hagel. He missed a wide-open shot wide right in the third period, which could have been the game-winner had it gone in.
The Lightning moved to 18-0 in games following a loss over their last three postseasons. But on Thursday night, it didn’t come easy.
Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal during sudden-death overtime in Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Ondrej Palat’s first-period goal and Anthony Cirelli’s shorthanded score in the second period gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead, but the team couldn’t hold it. Toronto would score three consecutive goals behind Matthews and two from John Tavares to take the lead heading into the third period.
Two debatable high-sticking penalties cost the Maple Leafs in the third period.
Nikita Kucherov capitalized on the power play to tie the game. It would be enough for the Tampa Bay to force overtime and eventually have Point come through with the game-winner.
Toronto Maple Leafs right wing William Nylander (88) breaks out against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round playoff series Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
The Lightning are the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, having won during the coronavirus-impacted 2019-20 season against the Montreal Canadiens and then last year against the Dallas Stars. In that time, the Lightning only faced elimination in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Islanders last year.
Toronto hasn’t been out of the first round since 2004.
Game 7 is set for Saturday night in Toronto.