The Toronto Maple Leafs are one win away from reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 Tuesday night in Game 5. The series has been back and forth throughout, with teams alternating wins. But this game didn’t look very good for Toronto at first.
The Lightning quickly took a 2-0 lead in the first period, bringing back painful memories for Toronto fans everywhere. During intermission, veteran Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza apparently gave an inspirational speech to the team, according to The Athletic’s. Maple Leafs reporter Jonas Siegel. Apparently the speech worked.
Auston Matthews and John Tavares both say an intermission speech by Jason Spezza inspired the Leafs’ comeback.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) May 11, 2022
The Maple Leafs went from a 2-0 deficit to a 3-2 lead in the third period. The Lightning tied the game, but superstar Auston Matthews ended the game with a late rebound goal. It sent Maple Leaf Square into a frenzy.
— NHL (@NHL) May 11, 2022
Matthews and John Tavares attributed the comeback to Spezza’s speech.
Now Toronto is just one game away from doing something it hasn’t done in 18 years. 2004 was the last time the Maple Leafs qualified for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This is truly remarkable considering the overall success of the organization, as well as the talented teams of the past few years.
What would make this even more impressive is that they face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions. It’s a great hockey team in Tampa Bay with almost all the same players who have won the title before.
Game 6 takes place in Tampa Bay on Thursday night.