Lightning Crashes: Tampa Bay comes out flat in Game 1 loss to Maple Leafs

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TORONTO — Midway through Tampa Bay's post-game media availability on Monday, a couple of team staffers replaced the black cushioned chair at the front of the room for a different seat.

It was the first time the Lightning were comfortable all night.

The reigning Stanley Cup champions served up a dud in a Game 1 loss to Toronto, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Maple Leafs in a one-sided game that delighted the sellout crowd at Scotiabank Arena.

"Certainly we need to get back to what our identity is here as far as keeping the puck out of our net," said Tampa Bay defenceman Ryan McDonagh. "Letting our offence come from that. They had some odd-man (rushes), they had some breakaways.

"That's not winning hockey. So we'll look at things and be better here in Game 2."

Tampa Bay was on the power play for seven of the first 12 minutes but looked lost throughout. Toronto had the better scoring chances despite being short-handed.

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said his team's power play had been 'dominant' in recent weeks but couldn't get on track in Game 1.

"Probably a little bit of frustration set in there that we didn't need to put upon ourselves," he said. "I think when you're used to getting on the power play and then going to centre ice after you've scored, at some point I think maybe we thought it was a right that that was just going to happen again. And Toronto had other ideas."

Tampa Bay was 0 for 5 with the man advantage in a penalty-filled game with plenty of physical play and tension. The Maple Leafs converted one of six opportunities on the power play and outshot the Lightning 33-24.

"They did a good job of executing on those PK's early and they gained some momentum," said Lightning forward Steven Stamkos. "It could have been a really different game if we scored early on that. That was a missed opportunity."

Jake Muzzin beat Andrei Vasilevskiy late in the first period and three second-period goals essentially put the game out of reach. Jack Campbell made 24 saves for the shutout and Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the game early in the third to ice the victory.

"We'll watch the film and we'll adjust," Stamkos said. "It's going to be a long series."

Tampa Bay lost in the first round in 2019 before winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. Only five points separated the 54-21-7 Maple Leafs from the 51-23-8 Lightning in the regular-season standings.

"This is a group that's shown a lot of resiliency in the last three years," Cooper said. "Even though when we got knocked out in the first round, it took some resiliency to get back in to make the playoffs and then to do what we've done the last two years.

"So it's no guarantee because of our history, but we can definitely draw from it. I have the utmost confidence in our group."

Tampa Bay outhit Toronto 56-36. The Maple Leafs blocked 25 shots to the Lightning's 11.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven first-round series is scheduled for Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena. The Lightning will return home to the Amalie Arena for Game 3 on Friday and Game 4 on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2022.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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