Michael Bunting He has been suspended three games by NHL management for player safety and will not play for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSUN).
The Maple Leafs forward was disciplined for an illegal head check and a tackle against Lightning defensemen Eric Cernak Losing 7-3 in Game 1 on Tuesday.
The accident occurred at 15:40 of the second period. The match penalty was assessed as five minutes for an illegal check to the head. The Lightning scored twice on the ensuing power play, via striker Corey Perry and the center Brayden Pointfor a 6-2 lead.
Cernak left the game and never returned. Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said Wednesday that the defender will not play in Game Two.
The Maple Leafs have lost in the first round in each of the past six seasons, including a seven-game loss to Tampa Bay last season despite a 3-2 lead. Toronto has not won a Stanley Cup playoff series since 2004, and their last championship was in 1967.
With no flags available, Callie Jarnkrock Substitute him on the left wing on a line with the middle Austin Mathews and the right wing Mitchell Marner In practice Wed.
Ryan O’Reilly The center was in line with the left wing Matthew Kneswho could make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in Game 2, and right wing Noel Accari. John Tavareswho played left wing in the first game on a line with O’Reilly and right wing William Nylandershifted to the center between the left wing Alexander Kerfoot and nylander.
Fourth line from the center David Kampf between the left wing Zack Aston Reese and the right wing Sam Lafferty remained the same.
“Yesterday wasn’t great (the strikers) in our bottom six, so there’s that, but I also haven’t made any line-up decisions in terms of what form we’re looking at tomorrow,” Keefe said on Wednesday. “I wanted to get some reps for John back at the center; he hasn’t had those all week. If we end up moving things around, I want him to be comfortable there. But I haven’t made any final decisions so I haven’t read much about what we looked like today.”
Knies, a second round pick (#57) by the Maple Leafs in the 2021 NHL Draft, had one assist in three regular season games after signing with Toronto after his sophomore season with the University of Minnesota.
“Tampa is a competitive team,” Kniss said of what he learned watching the first game, “and elimination is a different animal, much more physical and much faster.” A great lesson for this team.
“That would be great (playing in Game Two). It’s every kid’s dream to play in the playoffs and play for the Stanley Cup, so I’ll be really excited and be a part of it.”
O’Reilly said he’s very impressed with Knes, who has scored 42 points (21 goals, 21 assists) in 40 games with the University of Minnesota this season, since joining the Maple Leafs on April 9.
“He’s a great kid, he works hard, and you can see his skills are incredible, the way he pucks and the plays he makes out there, it’s going to be exciting to play with him,” O’Reilly said. “Hopefully we can generate a lot and be a tough line to play against but hopefully I can contribute offensively. I’m very impressed with him. You can tell he’s going to have a long career in the NHL.”
Keefe confirmed it Ilya Samsonovwho allowed six goals on 29 shots before being pulled at the end of the second half, would start for Toronto in game two. Joseph Wall Four of the five shots stopped in the third period Tuesday.
NHL.com freelance reporter Dave McCarthy contributed to this report
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