TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Down a goal and outplayed for much of the night, the Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to reclaim home-ice advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ryan O’Reilly scored with a minute left in regulation, then won a faceoff that set up Morgan Reilly’s goal at 19:15 of overtime that gave the Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory Saturday night in Game 3 of the best-of-seven matchup.
Ilya Samsonov stopped 36 shots for Toronto. He had eight saves in the extra period, one on Lightning star Nikita Kucherov from point-blank range, to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Monday night at Amalie Arena.
Toronto, which hasn’t won a playoff series since 2004, also regained home-ice advantage in the series after watching it slip away during a lopsided loss at home in Game 1.
The Maple Leafs are 0 for 7 in their last seven postseason matchups, including first-round exits each of the past six years.
“It wasn’t the best game by us, but we did a good job of sticking with it,” O’Reilly said.
Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe also liked the way his team stayed the course, noting that in past years “we’ve lost this game.”
Auston Matthews and Noel Acciari scored early for Toronto, which forced overtime when O’Reilly slipped a shot past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy with 60 seconds remaining in the third period.
Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Hagel scored in the opening period for Tampa Bay, which took a 3-2 lead on rookie Darren Raddysh’s first career playoff goal at 13:34 of the second.
Play was interrupted for several minutes early in the third period while officials sorted through a wild sequence that began with Reilly pushing Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point into the boards as the two battled for a loose puck.
The hit touched off several skirmishes, one of them involving Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Matthews.
Stamkos and Matthews were sent to the penalty box for fighting, as were Kucherov and O’Reilly.
Reilly was initially assessed a five-minute penalty for boarding, but following a review, the officials ruled there was no penalty for the shove on Point, who skated to the locker room bent over in pain before returning in the closing minutes of regulation.
Matthews and Acciari scored in the first period for Toronto. The Maple Leafs forced overtime when O’Reilly scored from in front after Vasilevskiy blocked William Nylander’s shot from left of the net.
Tampa Bay wiped out a pair of one-goal deficits in the opening period, with Hagel’s first goal of the series making it 2-2. Raddysh skated from behind the net to lift a nifty shot over Samsonov for the 3-2 lead the Lightning held until O’Reilly tied it with exactly one minute left in the third.
“I really like the way we played,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, adding that considering the adversity his team has faced in the first three games of the series, he feels like Tampa Bay is in a fairly good spot.
“We won one, and took another to overtime,” Cooper said. “This wasn’t the result we wanted … but it’s a gutty group. I liked the way we responded.”
Two minutes after Raddysh scored, the Lightning appeared to go up 4-2. But what would have been a power-play goal for Point was waved off after officials used replay to determine that Samsonov had covered up the puck before Point poked it out from under the goaltender’s pad and into the net.
Cooper felt the whistle was blown too quickly on the play.
“Obviously unfortunate for us,” the Tampa Bay coach said. “But not why we lost the game.”
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman played after missing the final two periods of Game 1 and all of Game 2 due to an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Erik Cernak remained sidelined after taking a hit to the head from Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting in Game 1. Bunting drew a three-game suspension for an illegal check to the head and interference.
Toronto’s Mitchell Marner had two assists, giving him eight points (two goals, six assists) in the series. O’Reilly had two assists, in addition to his goal.