The Lightning’s series with the Maple Leafs, which resumes Tuesday night with Game 5 in Toronto, is one that has had considerable personality swings through four games. The one thing that has held up, though, is that the team that scores first has won each game.

Lightning Notebook: Strong 5-On-5 Play; Hedman A Norris Finalist

TAMPA, Fla. – The Lightning’s series with the Maple Leafs, which resumes Tuesday night with Game 5 in Toronto, is one that has had considerable personality swings through four games. The one thing that has held up, though, is that the team that scores first has won each game.

In Game 4, the Lightning not only scored first, but had a 3-0 lead by the time the match was eight minutes old. They went on to win, 7-3, to even the series.

“The first goal has been important in the series so far,” said Steven Stamkos, who opened the onslaught 60 seconds into the game. “We had a great start. That was one of our keys, to come out and play the right way. We got rewarded for that.”

The Lightning’s series with the Maple Leafs, which resumes Tuesday night with Game 5 in Toronto, is one that has had considerable personality swings through four games. The one thing that has held up, though, is that the team that scores first has won each game.
Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, Credit: Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning kept rewarding themselves, especially five-on-five. They may have only been 1-for-8 with the man advantage, but that was a mere footnote because of how they dominated five-on-five play in building a 4-0 lead.

In fact, from that standpoint, the Bolts picked up where they left off. Thanks to their five-on-five play in the third period of Game 3, they came within a goal after trailing 3-0. A couple of empty-netters made the final 5-2.

“We talked about finding some success there in the third period (of Game 3) and we wanted to replicate that to start (Game 4),” said Stamkos. “I like the way we responded.”

Scoring first after a loss: With the win in Game 4, the Lightning continue their streak of refusing to lose two in a row. Since the start of the 2020 bubble playoffs, which included a round-robin for seeding purposes, they have followed each of their 16 losses – seven in 2020, seven in 2021 and two so far in 2022 — with a victory. The Bolts have scored first in each of the last 11 such games beginning with Game 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final against Dallas. After losing the series opener 4-1, the Lightning won Game 2 with Brayden Point scoring first in a 3-2 victory.  

No slowing Colton: Ross Colton, who has been playing with Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul, scored 10 goals in the first 12 games of April before going without a goal in the final four games of the regular season. May has been pretty good so far for the New Jersey native. He scored twice in Game 4, one into an empty net, and has three goals in the series.

“Growing up watching playoff hockey, there is a different kind of energy that I always wanted to be a part of,” said Colton, who scored 22 goal this season, his full season in the NHL. “Now, I get super excited even more to be a part of it and do whatever I can to help the team win.”

Colton helped the cause in the biggest way last summer when he scored the lone goal in the Cup-clinching Game 5 win over Montreal at Amalie Arena. He had four goals and a pair of assists in 23 games during last year’s postseason.

Norris finalist once again: Victor Hedman is a Norris Trophy finalist for a sixth consecutive season. He won the award, given to the NHL’s best defenseman, in 2017-18 and finished third the four other occasions. Other finalists are Nashville’s Roman Josi, who won the award in 2019-20, and Colorado’s Cale Makar. 

“It is certainly a great honor once again,” said Hedman, who established career highs in goals (20), assists (65) and points (85). “For me, the trophy that matters most is the one we play for as a team, obviously. But to get this individual recognition is always great. Playing for this team has been such as honor, and without my teammates I would not be in this situation. Being a part of this team has made it possible.”

Hedman leads active defenseman in playoff scoring with 94 career points. His two assists in Game 4 pushed him past Bobby Orr and Red Kelly and into 16th place all-time. Next up with 97 points is Brian Leetch. 

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