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Killorn on Lightning collapse: 'Difficult one to process'

Tampa Bay Lightning Andrei Vasilevskiy - The Canadian Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the brink of elimination after a blowing a three-goal third-period lead in Game 4 Monday en route to falling 5-4 to the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime.

Tampa Bay held a 4-1 lead over Toronto with less than 10 minutes remaining Monday before the Maple Leafs stormed back with three goals in the span of less than seven minutes. Alexander Kerfoot scored the game-winner just over four minutes into overtime on the power play.

"This is a difficult one to process at the moment," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "Having that lead and letting it slip away is tough, but we've got to get over it. They're a good team and their big-time players came through in a big way and I think we just sat back too much.

"We were a little too comfortable with that lead." 

The loss came just two days after the Maple Leafs scored with a minute left to force overtime in Game 3, which Toronto won as well.

"We were on pucks, we were getting pucks behind them and strong with our forecheck and we made it hard on them," teammate Anthony Cirelli added. "I think we got away from that a little bit in the third period, too much sitting back."

Having lost both Games 3 and 4 on home ice, the Lightning will head to Toronto for Thursday's Game 5 with their season on the line. Tampa Bay has reached the Stanley Cup final in each of the previous three seasons, winning the championship in 2020 and 2021.

The first-round series between the two teams has seen no shortage of offence, with the Maple Leafs holding a 19-16 goals advantage through four games. The opening-round series between the two teams last season was also high-scoring until the Lightning escaped with a 2-1 win in Game 7 to advance.

"We've scored enough goals to win, but in the end, you've got to keep them out of the net," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said of his team's performance in the series. "You can't be giving up this amount of goals. I don't care if it's the regular season or playoffs especially.

"You put four on the board and that should be a win. But in the end, you've got to defend and keep the puck out of your net. We didn't do it enough."

The Maple Leafs, who also held a 3-1 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens in 2021, have not advanced past the first round of the playoffs since 2004.