They didn’t make it easy on themselves, but the Toronto Maple Leafs just won the biggest game of the Auston Matthews era.
That Toronto Maple Leafs game was nuts.
After going down 2-0 and playing the worst first period of all-time, this team stormed back and won a thrilling 4-3 game in front of a jacked-up crowd.
As a life-long Leafs fan, like many of you reading this, I’ve had my share of high’s and low’s watching this team. All of the Game 7 losses have been brutal, but the Jeremy Roenick game-winning overtime goal from 2004 will always sting the most.
As a kid, the Leafs were everything.
Every play was do-or-die and when the Leafs played a playoff game, you put everything on-hold. When Toronto won, there was nothing more fulfilling in my life at that time, but when they lost, especially in the way they did in 2004, I found myself crying alone in the basement, wiping the tears away with my Mats Sundin jersey.
That 2004 goal was 18 years ago, but that wound still feels fresh.
Although I’m no longer a kid living and dying with every shot, that kid in me still comes out for playoff games. The loss in 2004 has stayed with me for 18 years, because that season was the last time the Leafs actually won a playoff series.
Toronto Maple Leafs Win Best Game of Matthews Career
So, as I sat at Scotiabank Arena for Game 5, lucky enough to be in the building (with incredible seats), I reflected on that moment as a kid. You can’t take those memories for granted because the Leafs aren’t just a hockey team.
They’re in your blood.
When Toronto went down 2-0, Scotiabank Arena was quiet, but there was a calmness in the building. Well, at least for me. For some reason it felt like they were going to find a way to win.
By not allowing that third goal, Jack Campbell kept the Leafs in it. If it wasn’t for his performance, Toronto’s season could very well have been over in Game 6, but instead, it’s Tampa who’s fighting for their playoff lives.
Campbell’s steady performance rallied the team and the third period was something you dream of. When William Nylander made it 3-2, I thought my head was going to explode and then when Auston Matthews scored to make it 4-3 with six minutes left, I’m pretty sure my head actually did explode and it’s sitting somewhere on the floor of Section 122 right now.
That hockey game was something I’ll never forget, but at the same time, it could very well be forgetful if Toronto doesn’t win this series.
Toronto showed a new side to them with that comeback win last night and they need to use that as momentum and finish the job in Game 6.
No more Game 7’s, please and thank you.
What a night, what a game and god bless Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs for making me feel like a kid again for the first time in a very long while.