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The Toronto Maple Leafs are searching for that elusive first playoff series win since 2004. On Tuesday night, they didn’t do themselves any favors toward reaching that goal by going down 1-0 after losing Game 1 to the Tampa Bay Lighting, 7-3.
Starting goalie Ilya Samsonov was ultra-critical of his performance in his first playoff outing with the Leafs.
“Easy to say bad bounce, bad rebound or something,” Samsonov said, per The Toronto Star. “But this… for losers. I’ll do better. I played like s–t today.”
You’ve got to hand it to him for being the one to say, “This one’s on me, boys.” Perhaps owning up to his mistakes was a good move. On Wednesday, head coach Sheldon Keefe announced that the team will stick with Samsonov in net for Game 2.
Samsonov played the first two periods on Tuesday night and let in six goals on 29 shots. Backup Joseph Woll fared only marginally better, giving up one goal on five shots.
While it’s big of Samsonov to take the heat, it’s clear his teammates didn’t help him out a whole heck of a lot. Of Tampa’s seven goals, all but one were scored from directly in the slot.
Boys, maybe try to help your goalie out a little and keep that area clear.
Leafs Didn’t Take Quality Shots But Did Take Some Ill-Advised Penalties
Tampa Bay generated more shots on net, but Toronto generated more shot attempts on Tuesday night. The Leafs also had the edge in some puck possession metrics CF% was 51.2% to the Bolts’ 48.8%.
I think that goes to show that while goaltending was an issue, it was far from Toronto’s only issue. The Leafs had problems pretty much everywhere: in net, in the offensive zone, in the defensive zone, and even on special teams.
Generating quality shots on-net will be huge, especially with Tampa D-man Victor Hedman out of the lineup. So will staying out of the box. Tampa scored 4 of their 7 goals on powerplays. Two of those came during Michael Bunting’s 5-minute major in the second period.
If Toronto drops a second game at home — even with Tampa’s injuries and fairly simple adjustments like clearing the front of the net, getting shots on net, and not taking penalties — this series is as good as done.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle