How should the Maple Leafs be feeling heading into Game 7?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to go with the same line combinations for Saturday's Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.
Here were their lines at Saturday morning's game-day skate according to TSN's Mark Masters:
The Leafs fell behind 2-0 in Game 6 Thursday night in Tampa before rallying for three straight goals to take a 3-2 lead heading into the third period. The Lightning were handed a 5-on-3 advantage following back-to-back penalties to David Kampf (hooking) and Alexander Kerfoot (high-sticking), where Nikita Kucherov scored the equalizer to make it a 3-3 game and keep the two-time defending champs alive.
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away a flurry of Toronto scoring chances down the stretch and the game went to overtime, where Brayden Point put home a rebound for the winner to force a Game 7.
The Maple Leafs' struggles in the opening-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is well chronicled, with the team having last won a playoff series in 2004 under Pat Quinn.
Forward Mitch Marner told reporters Saturday he has no memory of the Leafs' last series victory but stressed the importance of turning the page.
"It's a long time ago. It's a new time, a new age. We're excited," he said.
The Leafs have lost six consecutive series, including losing three straight games to the Montreal Canadiens in 2021. When asked about Toronto's struggles in past Game 7s, forward William Nylander said the team has to go in confident.
"I think we came out a little bit flat in those games, maybe a little bit scared to lose. We don't need to be scared to lose [tonight]," Nylander said.
The Lightning, who have won more playoff series than anybody the past two seasons, know the importance of showing up when it matters most.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters he was confident in his team heading into Saturday's do-or-die showdown.
"It's because of how we've played in this series...the confidence has grown through the series. The players are going to be relaxed and play with energy. We're going to give ourselves every opportunity to win the game," Keefe said.
"This is where names are made. If you show up for a Game 7 you're going to be remembered," Tampa forward Corey Perry said.
The winner will take on the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning next week.