Toronto Maple Leafs of brink of blowing one other first spherical sequence

Auston Matthews and the Leafs face another Game 7.

Auston Matthews and the Leafs face one other Sport 7.
Picture: Getty Photographs

No person ever tweeted a couple of Florida Panthers playoff sequence victory earlier than final night time, when Carter Verhaeghe, off a cross from Claude Giroux – commerce deadline acquisition and bringer of tons of vicarious Panthers followers from Philadelphia – lifted Florida to a 4-3 time beyond regulation win over the Capitals, and a 4-2 win within the sequence.

The Panthers’ victory meant a few issues. First, though we’re nonetheless arrange for a dream hockey weekend, we fell one in need of tying 1992’s document of half a dozen Sport 7s in a spherical. It additionally implies that the Panthers now not have the NHL’s longest drought between successful postseason sequence. Now that Florida is off the schneid after 24 years, the brand new workforce that’s gone the longest with out a handshake line that wasn’t adopted by trudging into the offseason is… with a 16-year hole since their final win in a sequence… you already comprehend it due to the headline, however take a minute and fake you don’t for the drama…


Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs, whose final win in a playoff sequence was so way back, it got here in a yr when the Ottawa Senators had been truly within the playoffs, 2004. Within the Japanese semifinals that adopted, the house workforce between the Leafs and Flyers gained every of the primary 5 video games, then Philly wrapped up the sequence in time beyond regulation in Sport 6.

Toronto then didn’t even make the playoffs till after a pair of lockouts, lastly returning to the Stanley Cup match within the shortened 2013 season, the place they valiantly got here again from 3-1 down within the sequence, took a 4-1 lead on targets by Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri early within the third interval, and you understand the remainder.

The Leafs then endured a rebuild, acquired Auston Matthews in a totally-not-rigged draft lottery, and made it again to the playoffs in 2017, the place they made displaying towards the Capitals, falling in six video games in a sequence the place all however Sport 4 (a 5-4 Washington win) went to time beyond regulation.

2018: Got here again from 3-1 down towards the Bruins once more, solely blew a 4-3 lead in Sport 7 this time, misplaced 7-4.

2019: Managed to not get right into a 3-1 gap towards the Bruins, as a substitute taking a 3-2 lead within the sequence earlier than dropping Sport 6 at residence and getting waxed, 5-1, within the decider in Boston.

2020: Within the bubble – in Toronto – misplaced a best-of-five sequence to the Blue Jackets, who had gained 33 of 70 video games in the course of the common season.

2021: Took a 3-1 sequence lead towards a Canadiens workforce that gained 24 of 56 regular-season video games, and towards whom the Leafs had gone 7-2-1 within the common season. Though Video games 5 and 6 went to time beyond regulation, Toronto didn’t lead in both one, and certain as hell didn’t lead within the 3-1 Sport 7, when William Nylander solely scored after Montreal had already scored an empty-net purpose to ice the sequence.

And now right here we’re, with the Florida Panthers having moved on, and the Leafs going through the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, in a sequence Toronto has led, 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2. What might probably go flawed?

There’s one different little bit of historical past right here. The Maple Leafs haven’t crushed the defending champions since they took down the Habs in six video games within the 1967 Stanley Cup Closing. So, all of that stuff concerning the Leafs’ first-round distress? Both we’re including to it tonight, or they’re lastly successful the Cup.

Bucks can’t shut out Celtics; Warriors ship Memphis fishing

Over within the NBA, after not having a single first-round sequence go the gap, had all of its convention semifinals attain Sport 6, and Friday night time, as on Thursday, one title contender moved on whereas one other couldn’t shut the deal.

The defending champion Bucks want to return to Boston for a decider after squandering their probability to return to the convention finals in a 108-95 residence loss. The night time’s different residence workforce did maintain serve and completed taking down the upper seed, although it’s not as if Golden State was actually the underdog towards Memphis. The Grizzlies gave it every thing they’d with out Ja Morant, however dropped a 110-96 verdict because the weak, however nonetheless elite, three-time champs pulled away with a 32-19 fourth quarter.

That also offers a sports activities weekend with seven Sport 7s, so buckle in, as a result of it’s going to be a variety of enjoyable – and, in truth, a document in its personal proper, albeit one which feels much more made up.

In the meantime, in Arkansas…

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