Brayden Point scored twice and the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 Tuesday night in the opener of the teams’ first-round playoff series.

Nikita Kucherov and Corey Perry each had a goal and two assists, and Anthony Cirelli and Ross Colton finished with a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored for the Lightning, who scored four goals on the power play. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves in his 100th playoff start.

Ryan O’Reilly, William Nylander and Calle Jarnkrok scored for Toronto. Mitch Marner had three assists and Auston Matthews added a pair. Ilya Samsonov allowed six goals on 29 shots before being replaced by Joseph Woll early in the third period. The rookie goalkeeper finished with four saves.

Toronto winger Michael Bunting received a match and game misconduct penalty for an illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak. The hit occurred with 4:20 remaining in the second period. Cernak, who did not have the puck, fell backwards to the ice and went to the locker room.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates with teammate Pat Maroon #14 after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 18. April 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Andrew Lahodynskyj/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday night in Toronto.

The Lightning beat the Maple Leafs in seven games at the same stage of the playoffs last spring en route to their third straight Stanley Cup appearance. Meanwhile, Toronto is desperately seeking to end an ugly series of postseason failures that has seen the franchise not advance since 2004.

The Maple Leafs have lost seven straight series since 2013, including six straight with the talented core led by Matthews, Marner and Nylander. Toronto captain John Tavares has gone 0-5 since he signed in 2018.

The battle-tested Lightning, meanwhile, won the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021, before falling to the Colorado Avalanche in last year’s championship round.

Tampa opened the scoring just 1:18 into the first period, calming the raucous, towel-waving crowd when Bellemare scored on a rebound after Zach Aston-Reese failed to clear the puck.

The Lightning made it 2-0 six minutes later when Cirelli buried a rebound in a scramble after Toronto gave away the puck in the neutral zone.

Toronto began to pull back, with Matthews putting up the biggest fight.

Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal with teammate Brandon Hagel #38 against the Toronto Maple Leafs during game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 18 2023 in Toronto, Ontario.  Canada.

Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal with teammate Brandon Hagel #38 against the Toronto Maple Leafs during game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 18 2023 in Toronto, Ontario. Canada. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

RANGERS HOT START PROPS THEM TO GAME 1 WIN OVER DEVIL RIVALS

But Tampa Bay took a three-goal lead with just 2.6 seconds left in the period on a power play, when Kucherov beat Samsonov with a timeout on short side.

Toronto got a goal back on a power play with O’Reilly scoring eight minutes into the second.

Samsonov made a great save on Perry before Nylander fired through a screen into another man’s lead to make it 3-2.

Toronto defenseman Jake McCabe then leveled Michael Eyssimont, sending the Tampa center into the locker room before Point made it 4-2 on another power play moments later.

The match penalty and game misconduct ended Toronto’s hope of recovery.

Already without Victor Hedman, who didn’t make a substitution after the first period, Tampa Bay managed to restore its three-goal lead when Perry hit a puck off Samsonov’s post two minutes before intermission.

The play stood after a Toronto challenge for goaltender interference, giving the Lightning a 5-on-3 power play.

The Leafs survived that, but Point scored their second goal of the game with a tenth of a second left on the clock for a 6-2 margin.

Toronto was booed off the ice at the halftime buzzer before Colton stretched the lead to five goals on a breakaway seven minutes into the fourth period.

Jarnkrok got Toronto’s third goal.

Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 18, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Brayden Point #21 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 18, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

SCHENN’S TIME

Drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2008 and traded in 2012, veteran defenseman Luke Schenn suited up for his first playoff game with Toronto nearly 15 years after first joining the organization.

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The 33-year-old played for six organizations in the interim, including Stanley Cup victories with Tampa in 2020 and 2021, before the Vancouver Canucks traded him to Toronto in late February.

«Better late than never,» Schenn said Tuesday morning. «It’s been a long time in the making.»