Nick Paul’s unknown heist appears in Game 7 as the Tampa Bay Lightning takes down the Toronto Maple Leafs

It could have left Tampa Bay the chance to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in a row.

Lightning was goalless in the first period of Game 7 against Toronto on Saturday in an effort to close out the first-round playoff streak when he’s a striker. Brayden Point He went hard into the planks at Maple Leafs and twisted his right leg under them.

The point couldn’t put any weight on the leg and had to be helped into the locker room. Tampa Bay was suddenly in a position to return to the wall, and without one of its best players in the series, who had just scored the overtime winner to stave off elimination in Game 6.

Another team may have melted away. Tampa Bay rose.

Before the end of that first period, the center of the third line Nick Paul He scored his first two goals that night. That set the tone for Tampa Bay The two-time Stanley Cup champions beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 She advanced to face the Florida Panthers in the second round.

It would have been a night when you just said, ‘Oh, the pointer is over; It’ll be one of those nights,” Captain Tampa Bay Stephen Stamkos She said. “I can’t even quantify the scale of the loss for our group, [especially] In game 7. You just have to give the credit to our group. But we just did it. We have fallen back from the standard set for this group, and [the mindset was] Let’s do whatever it takes. It doesn’t matter who does it, when and why. It’s definitely a contagious feeling and attitude. But this is just one [series win]. We want to keep rolling.”

Point came back to start the second half, took one shift, then fell back to the bench in pain. He would stay there for the duration, refusing to leave while his team continued to work without him.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper received no update on Point after the match. But it’s safe to say, Point made his point by sticking with Lightning.

“It’s all about our group that everyone wants to be in the fight,” Tampa Bay defense Victor Hedman She said. “It doesn’t matter how many shifts you get or if you don’t play at all. Having him on the bench…was a great motivator. That goes a long way. We’re a tight-knit group, we’ve been through a lot together and that feels great.”

Toronto originally had two chances to send the Tampa Bay packages after leading the series 3-2 after Game Five. The Maple Leafs failed on both counts, and the game’s seventh defeat marked a fifth straight loss in the first round of the playoff round for Toronto, which is now 0-5 in the last five games with a chance to close the team.

Tampa Bay has not lost a first-round streak since 2019, when Lightning won the regular season Chiefs Cup only to be swept out of the playoffs in four games by the Columbus Blue Jackets. They responded by organizing back-to-back Stanley Cup competitions. And now, triple peat is still on the horizon, something that hasn’t been done since the New Yorkers won four consecutive teams from 1979 to 1983.

Not lost on Lightning how special such an achievement is. But they already have nicknames with the core of their group. They are now looking to see where some of the new faces can take them, including a certain acquisition on a trade deadline that comes from the biggest game of his Pole career.

“There are some players like Pauli who haven’t been here for the last two years,” Stamkos said. “That’s the motive. Let’s give these guys a shot for a cup. Once you put on that Bolts costume… I mean, we know what we’ve accomplished in the last couple of years, but it’s really a new year. It’s going to be tough like we’ve seen with this series.” [Winning again] In the back of your mind for sure. But listen, we want to win with this group and these guys. It was a good start here.”

The compatibility between Paul and Lightning was seamless from the start. Tampa Bay traded the Ottawa Senators for the striker on March 20, scoring five goals and 14 points in 21 regular season games.

This series was Paul’s first interlude. He was in great shape there too, finishing with four points in the seven matches.

“I was messing with my heart,” Paul said. “I’ve had opportunities. Tonight, they happened to come in. It’s the plays that happened around though. They’re guys driving cars.” [together] as a team game. Bring everyone [their] Game, everyone was ready, everyone was confident. We knew we were out to win that match. We got together and did it.”

The Maple Leafs made Tampa Bay run until the final victory bell, and Toronto’s efforts were not recognized throughout the challenging streak.

“It’s a great hockey team,” Stamkos said. “They’ve got all the chops. It’s not easy. We’ve had some setbacks in the past and you’re just going forward and you have to get over that hump. That’s the thing. Sometimes it gets mental. It definitely wasn’t because they don’t deserve it. They are. That was probably one of the toughest series we’ve played. They have everything. It’s just, we believed in ourselves, too.”

This would now also be the plan against the President’s Cup-winning Panthers. There is some bad blood coming out recently after Tampa Bay Florida was eliminated in the first round of last season. Lightning anticipates that another battle awaits them in the south.

“You should feel good about yourself tonight,” Stamkos said. “But then you fly home, and then you fly to [get ready for Florida] tomorrow. Feet on gas. These qualifiers.