This is hard to watch.
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner fought back tears after the Toronto Maple Leafs lost in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. The Leafs came one win away from advancing onto Round 2 for the first time since 2004.
The Leafs were eliminated from the postseason with a 2-1 loss to the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto was stymied by Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who hasn’t lost a playoff series in over two years. Vasi made 30 saves on 31 shots in Game 7
Matthews led the Leafs in scoring with four goals and five assists in Round 1. The American superstar silenced his critics after underperforming in previous postseason. Matthews kept it rolling in the postseason after an insane 60-goal regular season.
Marner, meanwhile, also silenced his doubters with nine points in Round 1. Media criticized Marner for having only four assists in last year’s postseason. The skilled winger poured his heart-and-soul into Game 7 Saturday, recording an assist on the Leafs’ lone goal and logging 24:26 of ice time.
Marner and Matthews answered questions from the media after the Game 7 loss. Both players wiped away tears at certain points in the interviews. They knew how close they were to winning.
“We’re getting sick and tired of feeling like this”, Marner said. Matthews teared up explaining how close they came to advancing. “We’re right there, we’re right there”, Matthews exclaimed.
Here’s Marner and Matthews’ heartbreaking post-game interviews:
Even if you don’t like the Leafs and their fans, you have to feel for the players. Toronto has a tremendously skilled team that ran into the two-time defending Cup champs in Round 1. The Leafs were a goal or two away from finally exercising their demons and winning a playoff round.
Post-game press conferences after series losses are always heartbreaking, but they show just how much winning means to the players. Considering the skill of Marner, Matthews and this Leafs team, it likely won’t be long before they’re playing in a Game 7 once again.