Toronto’s Auston Matthews, right, celebrates his goal against Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy with Mitchell Marner during third period of Game 5  Tuesday night in Toronto. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

TORONTO — Auston Matthews scored the tie-breaking goal with 6:06 left in the third period and the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff series.

William Nylander added a goal and two assists for Toronto, which is a victory away from advancing in the postseason for the first time since 2004. John Tavares had a goal and assist, and Morgan Rielly also scored. Jack Campbell stopped 32 shots.

Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh scored, Nikita Kucherov had two assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 22 saves for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who will try to avoid elimination in the best-of-seven series in Game 6 at home on Thursday night.

Game 7, if necessary, would be in Toronto on Saturday.

Matthews snapped a 3-3 tie on a two-on-one rush in the third period. Mitch Marner fired a shot off Vasilevskiy’s right pad and Matthews, who had 60 goals during the regular season, scored his third of the playoffs to ignite the raucous home crowd.

The Lightning pulled Vasilevskiy late and had a couple of chances, but iced the puck with 21.9 seconds left to force the 2021 Conn Smythe Trophy winner back into his crease.

Advertisement

NOTES

DRAFT LOTTERY: The Montreal Canadiens are not only hosting the NHL draft in July, they’ll have a chance to be the headliners after winning the draft lottery.

The Canadiens followed a turbulent season in which they finished last in the overall standings by retaining the right to the No. 1 pick.

The New Jersey Devils shook up the draft order by winning the second of two lottery drawings and moving from the fifth to second slot in the draft order.

The Devils’ win bumped Arizona from second to third, Seattle to fourth and Philadelphia to the fifth slot. The remaining slots from 6 to 16 remained unchanged based on where the teams finished in the standings.

Montreal finally managed to pick up a big win following a season in which the Canadiens were undone by a series of injuries and free-agent losses, which led to the team firing Coach Dominique Ducharme and General Manager Marc Bergevin. Kent Hughes took over as GM with Martin St. Louis still holding the title of interim coach.

Advertisement

The Canadiens went from reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup final, which they lost in five games to Tampa Bay, to a 22-49-11 finish – the franchise’s fewest wins in 60-plus-game season.

The timing of the lottery win at least lines up with the Canadiens’ lengthy wait to host the draft, scheduled for July 7 and 8. Montreal was originally scheduled to host the event in 2020, but the last two drafts were held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Montreal becomes the first team to host the draft and have the No. 1 pick since Toronto in 1985, when the Maple Leafs selected Wendel Clark.

SHARKS: For 23 seasons, Patrick Marleau woke up each day preparing to play hockey and that helped him eventually break Gordie Howe’s record for most games played in the NHL.

After a difficult year away from the game hoping another team would call and offer him a chance, Marleau announced his retirement Tuesday, ending a career that featured a record 1,779 games, 566 goals, two Olympic gold medals and nearly every significant San Jose Sharks record.

“It’s been hard,” Marleau said about his first season away from the game he started playing as a 3-year-old in Saskatchewan. “I’ve played this game that much all my life and I love it. I’m getting a whole new respect for my wife and my family and all the things that they had to go through when I was gone, just the day to day. But that’s my new challenge, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing now. I can’t wait to become the best father and husband I can be.”

Advertisement

Marleau said he kept in shape in case a team called but nothing materialized and he realized a few weeks ago that he was ready to announce his retirement.

He capped his retirement announcement the same way he did in a letter posted on the Players’ Tribune, saying simply: “Thank you, hockey.”

Marleau broke Howe’s all-time games played record late last season, the capper to a remarkable career that started as the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 draft.

Marleau retires ranked 23rd all-time with 566 goals and 50th with 1,197 points for San Jose, Toronto and Pittsburgh.

He also holds the Sharks records for games played (1,607), goals (522) and points (1,111) as he helped make the team into a perennial contender and a fixture in the South Bay.

“You can’t describe what Patrick means to the San Jose Sharks as an organization, to San Jose as a hockey community,” Sharks President Jonathan Becher said. “There’s a reason we call him Mr. San Jose Shark. He’s symbolized the franchise for 21 years. When he was ready to retire at his time we wanted to make sure we did it right.”

Advertisement

Becher said the team plans to hold a jersey retirement ceremony for Marleau next season.

The news conference Tuesday with Marleau’s wife, four sons and friends on hand, as well as several former teammates and select fans, came almost a year to the day after he played his final game in the NHL.

Marleau was emotional at times talking about the sacrifices made by his family and thanked all his teammates and coaches. The Sharks played a video tribute and messages from Commissioner Gary Bettman and former teammates Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton.

“Patrick Marleau, two-time Olympic gold medalist. You won the world championship. You won the World Cup. All-time leader in games played in NHL history. You scored over 500 goals. Crazy. Fourteenth all time in postseason goals. You did it when it mattered. You were loved by your teammates. We all love you so much,” Thornton said. “Enjoy retirement, my friend. You’ve earned it.”

Some of Marleau’s greatest accomplishments came at the Shark Tank where he held his retirement announcement. He scored the series-clinching goals against Detroit in the 2010 and ’11 playoffs, he had two assists when the Sharks won their first Western Conference final in 2016 and was on the ice for the team’s only Stanley Cup final appearance that season.

Marleau joined the Sharks as a 17-year-old from Saskatchewan in 1997 and made an immediate impact playing as a rookie with his elite skating ability and tireless work ethic that helped him last so long in the NHL.

Advertisement

Interim general manager Joe Will, who was in the scouting department when Marleau was drafted, said Marleau’s testing numbers and scouting reports still stand out a quarter-century later.

“They’re known as the Marleau standards,” Will said. “We’ve never seen anybody like him. We haven’t seen anybody like him since.”

MONDAY’S LATE GAMES

AVALANCHE 5, PREDATORS 3: Valeri Nichushkin scored the tie-breaking goal with 7:58 left, and visiting Colorado became the first team to advance to the second round by finishing a sweep of Nashville.

The Avalanche are in the Western Conference semifinals for a fourth straight season and second consecutive after sweeping their first-round opponent. They improved to 6-0 since the franchise relocated to Denver in best-of-seven series after winning the first three games with their fourth sweep in that span.

They now get to wait for either St. Louis or Minnesota after what Avs defenseman Cale Makar called step one.

Advertisement

“You enjoy it for a little bit, but then you move on,” Makar said. “Obviously, we don’t know who our opponent is yet, but it’s going to be a familiar team. For us, it’s already to that next step. We’re where we want it to be, but we have to make sure that we can stay tight throughout this little break that we have.”

Andre Burakovsky and Makar each had a goal and two assists for Colorado, and Devon Toews added a goal. Nathan MacKinnon sealed the victory with an empty-net goal on the man advantage with 55.9 seconds remaining.
Yakov Trenin scored twice for Nashville, which was swept for the first time in franchise history in its 15th playoff appearance.

FLAMES 4, STARS 1: Rasmus Andersson scored Calgary’s first power-play goal since early in the playoff opener, Jacob Markstrom had 34 saves and visiting Flames beat Dallas Stars in Game 4 to even their first-round series.

Johnny Gaudreau converted a penalty shot with 12:13 left in the game to make it 2-0 Calgary, and later assisted on Elias Lindholm’s third goal of the series as the Pacific Division champions regained home-ice advantage over the wild-card Stars. Mikael Backlund added an empty-netter in the final minute.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Calgary, where the teams traded shutouts in the first two games while combining for only three total goals – one of those an empty-netter at the end of the Stars’ 2-0 win in Game 2. The series returns to Dallas on Friday night for the sixth game in the best-of-seven series.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.