An ugly performance by the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning led to an ugly brawl in a 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday on the opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With the game out of hard midway through the third period, Tampa Bay’s Corey Perry tried going after Toronto’s Wayne Simmonds. Nothing happened there, but Perry and Ilya Lyubushkin went at each other.
While ESPN2 cut away for a commercial, Simmonds shoved Lightning star Victor Hedman and fights broke out, including Perry and Lyubushkin throwing punches and Toronto’s Morgan Rielly punching Tampa Bay’s Jan Rutta. Rutta left the ice with a big cut on his face.
Perry ended up with 23 penalties in the game. Rutta had 17 and teammate Pat Maroon had 10. Lyubushkin had 16 minutes for the game, Simmonds 10 and Rielly 15.
Toronto’s Kyle Clifford also had 15, but that was because he was ejected for a boarding major against Ross Colton that could draw the interest of NHL Player Safety.
What should have been a golden opportunity for the Lightning ended up setting the tone for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto shut down that five-minute power play and other ones as the Lightning made numerous giveaways against an aggressive penalty kill.
“They did a good job of executing early on those PKs and gained some momentum and it could have been a really different game if we had scored early on on that,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos told reporters. “It was a missed opportunity for us.”
The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, got a 5-on-3 power play goal from 60-goal scorer Auston Matthews and a short-handed goal from David Kampf.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Toronto.
Mitch Marner ends playoff drought
Toronto’s Matthews and Mitch Marner had one goal between them in last season’s first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Matthews scored twice on Monday and Marner also scored. That ended an 18-game playoff goal drought for the Maple Leafs star.