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NHL: The Leafs redeem themselves and reassure their supporters, John Tavares hat-trick

The Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back from the disappointment of two days earlier by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-2 Thursday in Game 2.

The Leafs’ best players have risen. John Tavares scored a hat-trick, while Mitch Marner provided two goals and an assist. Not to mention Morgan Rielly who, with four assists, tied a regulation record with four points in a playoff game for a defenceman. Ian Turnbull (1976), Alan Stanley (1960) and Wally Stanowski (1942) are the others to achieve this feat.

“The difference tonight is that we had a good start. We made sure we set the pace for the game,” said Marner.

“We said we wanted to go backwards and we did. We are happy with the way we played, but we erase and start again tomorrow.”

As promised, Ilya Samsonov bounced back after his last poor performance with 19 saves.

“Regardless of the result, it was a tough duel. But we controlled an attacking area and blocked a lot of shots, I had a lot of support. It was an excellent match and we have to keep going like this,” said the goalkeeper.

The Leafs started the game in the best way possible as Mitch Marner scored on the power play on the first shot after just 47 seconds on the move to blow the crowd away.

Marner had caused the penalty himself when he intercepted the puck on the blue line and was fumbled by Ian Cole trying to fix a turnover. Then he fired a powerful shot from the point that deceived Andrei Vasilevsky’s vigilance.

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Then John Tavares doubled the lead at 12:45. After winning the encounter, the captain stood in front of the net and caught Morgan Riley’s pass before being shot in the wrist.

William Nylander made it 3-0 by defeating Vasilevsky over the left shoulder.

Finally, the Lightning got on the board in the second period thanks to Ian Cole. After a long presence on the ice that lasted 2:06, he tapped into his reserves and feinted a nice backhand trick at Ilya Samsonov’s expense. It was his first goal in 55 matches.

Tavares did it again for his second of the game to restore a three-goal priority for his team by jumping on a return shot by Nylander, which bounced off the left leg of the Florida goalkeeper.

Zach Aston Reese made it 5-1, then Marner added to the pain when his shot deflected off opposition striker Brandon Hagel.

Tavares completed his hat-trick with 4:56 remaining in the five-on-three game. Vasilevskiy thinks he has mastered the puck, but instead he pushes it to the back of the net with his own skate.

Corey Perry scored the other goal in a losing cause for the Bullets, who were without Victor Hedman after suffering an injury in the first game.

The Lightning coach said he was considering changing goaltenders to start the third period, but Vasilevskiy didn’t hear it.

“I thought about it, but he refused immediately. That’s why he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he won’t give up. We have to take our hat off to him for that.”

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“The guys are professionals, they know what went wrong. It’s a seven-game series, it’s a long one and we’ll recover,” Cooper confirmed.

Hedman was expected to try to take part in the warm-up, but the defender didn’t even put on his uniform. He had left the first game due to an undisclosed injury.

The team was counting on the return of striker Tanner Jano, who has not played a match since April 6 and suffers from a leg injury. The 25-year-old put up a fierce battle against Luke Chien midway through the third period.

The series will now move to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4.