Tavares scores in OT as Leafs beat Lightning to advance
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — John Tavares scored 4:35 into overtime, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Saturday night for their first NHL playoff series win in nearly two decades.
The Maple Leafs won the best-of-seven matchup in six games, winning three times in overtime on the road and ending an 11-game losing streak in elimination games. They advanced in a series for the first time since 2004, a frustrating drought that included first-round exits each of the past six seasons.
The loss, meanwhile, ends Tampa Bay’s run of three consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning won back-to-back championships in 2020 and 2021, but they lost to Colorado in six games last year.
Auston Matthews also scored for the Maple Leafs, beating Andrei Vasilevskiy from the top of the right circle at 13:47 of the second period. Tavares added the winner, which trickled past the Lightning goalie after appearing to deflect off a defender’s skate.
Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which a year ago rallied from 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits to eliminate Toronto in the first round in seven games.
RANGERS 5, DEVILS 2
NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Kreider had a power-play goal and two assists as the Rangers beat the Devils to force a Game 7 in their first-round series.
Mika Zibanejad and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and an assist for New York, which had totaled just two goals while losing the previous three games. Barclay Goodrow and Braden Schneider also scored, and Adam Fox added two assists. Igor Shesterkin stopped 34 shots.
Curtis Lazar and Dawson Mercer scored for New Jersey. Akira Schmid, who had stopped 80 of 82 shots over the previous three games, was pulled after giving up five goals on 29 shots.
Game 7 is Monday night at New Jersey.
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The Associated Press