'The only thing Leafs need to change is the narrative': Tampa forces Game 7 in Toronto
The Toronto Maple Leafs are going the distance in their opening playoff series for the fifth straight year in a streak that currently includes four straight losses.
The Tampa Bay Lightning scored in overtime Thursday night to keep their season alive with a 4-3 win and force the series to a Game 7 in Toronto.
"We had a great chance here," Maple Leafs captain John Tavares said postgame. "We fought hard. Just didn't get it done.
"We've got to find a way to get over the finish line."
Amid a futility streak that has seen the Maple Leafs fail to reach the second round of the playoffs since 2004, the franchise has lost four times in Game 7, and were eliminated in the fifth and final game of the qualifying round by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2020.
Thursday's loss also dropped Toronto to 0-8 in elimination games over the past five seasons, which includes three failed opportunities to close out the Montreal Canadiens in the first round last year.
"What's in the past is in the past," centre Auston Matthews said. "We can't change anything now. It's about this next game and going out there with a purpose and details and just competing for 60 minutes or whatever it takes.
"We've just got to put (everything) on the line and go for it."
Saturday's Game 7 will mark the first time the Maple Leafs have held home-ice advantage with a full capacity crowd in the winner-take-all game during their playoff series drought.
"We did a lot of good things, but we couldn't get the job done," Matthews added. "Now we're going back on home ice with another opportunity to close out a series — do or die.
"The guys are excited about that, and I think we should be."