Lightning admit uncomfortable truth after shocking Game 4 loss

The Bolts snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.



All the Tampa Bay Lightning had to do was win a period of hockey, and they'd be heading back to Toronto having tied their series at two games apiece with the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, who are facing enormous scrutiny and pressure to advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades. 

However, the complacent Lightning saw their 4-1 lead midway through the third period dissolve thanks to a furious comeback effort by the Leafs, capped by the stunning power play goal in overtime by Alex Kerfoot. Suddenly, it's the Lightning and not the Leafs who have their backs up against the wall. 

And Tampa Bay knows that it blew a golden opportunity.

"This is a difficult one to process at the moment," Lightning forward Alex Killorn said. "Having that lead and letting it slip away is tough, but we've got to get over it. They're a good team and their big-time players came through in a big way and I think we just sat back too much.

"We were a little too comfortable with that lead." 

It's the second straight overtime game that the Lightning have lost to the Leafs in which they initially enjoyed the lead. Game 3 saw Toronto tie the score with just over a minute remaining in regulation thanks to 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O'Reilly, followed by a shot from the point by defenseman Morgan Rielly that inexplicably beat the suddenly very human Andrei Vasilevskiy. 

"We've scored enough goals to win, but in the end, you've got to keep them out of the net," Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said of his team's performance in the series. "You can't be giving up this amount of goals. I don't care if it's the regular season or playoffs especially.

"You put four on the board and that should be a win. But in the end, you've got to defend and keep the puck out of your net. We didn't do it enough."

The Lightning have no choice but to win, and then win two more straight games if they have any intention of once again sending the Leafs home for an early summer. Game 5 between the two teams will be back in Toronto on Thursday night.

Source: TSN