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TAMPA — It’s not yet enough of a concern to dial 9-1-1 and find out just where the No. 91s on the Maple Leafs and Lightning have disappeared to on the scoresheet.

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Steven Stamkos and John Tavares, the two GTA-born stars and No. 1 overall picks in their day, have not yet made their presence felt on the scoresheet in this series, with just one point a piece. Stamkos would’ve been the toast of Tampa had he buried his power-play blast in Game 3, which was right in his wheelhouse, but has been foiled three games by Jack Campbell, as well as missing an empty net and other chances in tandem with his winger Nikita Kucherov. Stamkos has just four shots on goal.

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“Every time he shoots it from there, you think it’s going in,” Tampa coach Jon Cooper said of the Game 3 hammer. “He got a good look and a ton on it. Great shot, better save.”

Tavares, in addition to adjusting to rotating wingers late in the regular season and through this week, has also seen some power-play opportunities get away.

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But he continues to have an impact with a successful 28-15 won-lost record in the faceoff dots.

Defenseman and alternate captain Morgan Rielly wasn’t watching the zeroes besides Tavares and Stamkos with the same interest as the media.

“I couldn’t tell you how many points anybody has. That’s not really what anybody is focused on. (Stamkos) is a good player, he’s going to get his chances.”


Both Cooper and Sheldon Keefe continue to pick their way through the many penalty calls, still looking surprised sometimes when the game is called by the book. Presumably, they were told by series supervisor Paul Devorski last week what to expect.

After 122 combined penalty minutes in the series opener, the Leafs were short-handed seven times in Game 2, while Friday saw the Lightning take high-sticking, roughing and boarding calls.

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“It’s interesting,” Cooper said. “I watched Pittsburgh–Rangers, Game 1, and it went deep into triple overtime. When was the last penalty? At 5-on-3 in the second period. Not the second overtime, the second regulation period. So how does that game not get a call for 5 1/2 periods?

“I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve said plenty of times I can’t sit here and disagree with a lot of those calls. I think the players have to be smoother moving forward. It’s not bad, but it’s just tons of disruption, more so in the playoffs.”


Justin Holl played Game 3 after Timothy Liljegren was taken out, both blueliners partnered with Mark Giordano.
“A big reason Liljegren got the upper hand to start the series was the chemistry between him and Giordano that they displayed down the stretch in the regular season,” Keefe said.

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“In the first couple of games, that pairing didn’t go so well. You want to get Holl involved in the penalty kill. He did do a good job, made a couple of mistakes inside there that we need him to a better job on, but that our forwards can help the cause on as well.

“He gave us a good game, but we have to limit the mistakes that hurt us.”

If Keefe doesn’t like what he sees from Holl on Sunday, he might back to Liljegren as he’s better able to control the youngster’s situation with last player change at home.


Keefe made sure to test his chair during Saturday’s press conference at Amalie Arena. The night before, not realizing it was on rollers he almost spun backwards into the Stanley Cup logo … David Kampf on being told Toronto has a record of 13-0 when he scores: “Really?” … Mitch Marner is now in the franchise’s top 20 for playoff assists, including Max Bentley for 19th with his 24th helper on Friday.

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