Maple Leafs keep Alex Kerfoot on the front row for Game 4 as Jack Campbell chats with teammates on the ice to keep the good vibes going

BRANDON, Fla. — Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe will keep Alex Kerfoot on the front line alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner when their first-round playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning resumes on Sunday. .

The Lightning used the line of Alex Killorn, Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli against Michael Bunting, Matthews and Marner and was effective for two periods of play and limited Toronto’s front line to no scoring chances or shot attempts during 40 minutes.

This prompted Keefe to put Kerfoot back on the front row to start the third period of their 5-2 win over the Lightning in Game 3, while moving Bunting further down the lineup.

“I thought that line was struggling last night,” Keefe said. “It’s coming back from an injury and you’re also playing the playoffs for the first time, especially when you’re going to play on this line, they’re not easy minutes.

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Bunting missed Game 1 of the series with an undisclosed injury and returned for Game 2 and scored his first playoff goal. With his top line in need of help, Keefe went to Kerfoot shortly after committing a shorthanded error that led to Tampa’s game-opening goal in Game 3.

“He made a small mistake in the second period shorthanded and it doesn’t change who he is,” Keefe said. “We’re giving him the opportunity to come up in the line-up after that and do a good job and it looks like whatever line he’s on, he’s improving.”

The Leafs scored goals from the most unlikely sources on Friday.

Colin Blackwell scored his first goal of the playoffs after defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin showed patience on a 3-on-1 scoring opportunity. David Kampf scored the game-winning goal on an unassisted play.

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One line that generated zero scores was the team’s new second line which saw John Tavares and William Nylander reunited once again.

“We had a few chances last game and a lot of power plays and for the second half of the game I think we were just trying not to get scored,” Nylander said. “Obviously we scored in the third half and it was just a battle not to give up on dangerous substitutions anymore.

Nylander and Kerfoot were the Leafs’ top two offensive players in the 2021 playoffs. While Kerfoot scored a goal, Nylander didn’t have a point. His teammate, John Tavares, has just one assist.

But the Leafs hold a 2-1 series lead and as long as they’re in the driver’s seat, that seems to be the goal.

“As long as the team wins, it doesn’t matter what happens to you individually,” Nylander said. “You just have to go out there and win the game. That’s what’s most important.

From the online rush in practice, it looks like the Leafs won’t be making any other changes to their roster.

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Campbell the Talkative

Jack Campbell is in his second playoffs with the Maple Leafs. He has a .924 save percentage in three games played and it seems like he is regularly spreading positive vibes with his teammate.

The 30-year-old constantly talks on the ice during the game and the chatter is appreciated by his teammates.

“I don’t think I’ve played with a goalie who talks as much as he does,” Nylander said of Campbell.

Regarding what the goalkeeper said.

“It’s anything, it could be anything,” Nylander added. “You look great” or whatever or stuff like that. Just being positive with the guys, which is fun to hear.

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The goalie battle in this series has intensified with Toronto scoring 11 goals in three games against Tampa goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Campbell outplayed his counterpart to help Toronto hang on to win Game 3.

But Lightning head coach Jon Cooper isn’t worried about Campbell’s specific performance.

“We’ve scored seven goals against him in the last two games, so if he’s going to sit here and average 3.50 in every two-game set, we’ll take that,” Cooper said of Campbell. “Did he make any saves? Of course he has. Did we beat him, we did.

“There’s always a misnomer that it’s about how many goals you score, it’s how much you prevent. And that’s where to look. Scoring goals against these guys- Well, that’s not a concern for me.

Game 4 will take place on Sunday at the Amalie Arena. Since the 2020 NHL playoffs, the Lightning are 15-0 after a loss in the previous game.

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