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Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares (91) celebrates with right wing Mitchell Marner (16) after Tavares scored the game-winning goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during overtime in Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, April 29, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.Chris O'Meara/The Associated Press

Toronto Maple Leafs fans can finally let out a deep sigh of relief. After nearly two decades of series loss after series loss, the Leafs are finally headed to the second round of the playoffs after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in the first round.

Toronto’s win ended a streak of 11 consecutive losses in series-clinching games. It also shattered Tampa Bay’s hopes of making it to the Stanley Cup final for the fourth consecutive season.

This is what was happening in the world in 2004, the last time the Maple Leafs won a playoff series.

A Toronto team actually wins something

While the Leafs were ultimately eliminated in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2004, the Toronto Argonauts had a different fate. That year, they won their 15th Grey Cup, bringing disappointed Toronto fans some solace.

The Leafs’ elation, such as it was, didn’t last long. The loss in the 2004 NHL playoffs began a seven-year playoff drought for Toronto, a first-round loss in 2013, three more years of missed playoffs, then six more seasons of first-round defeats.

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Toronto Argonauts Adrion Smith, Chad Folk, Mike O'Shea and Damon Allen smile during the Grey Cup Parade in Toronto, Nov. 23, 2004.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Stephen Harper wins the Conservative Party’s first leadership race

Pierre Poilievre was still months away from being elected as a 25-year-old MP when Stephen Harper won leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada in March, 2004. He blew out the competition with 56 per cent of the vote.

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Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate and believed front-runner Stephen Harper kisses his wife Laureen as he takes the stage to deliver his speech at the party's first leadership convention in Toronto on March 19, 2004.J.P. Moczulski/The Globe and Mail

Shrek 2 hits theatres

Following the smashing success of Shrek in 2001, Shrek 2 hit theatres just two weeks after the Maple Leafs’ elimination from the playoffs. Earning rave reviews, the movie earned close to a billion dollars at the box office and was the highest-grossing film of 2004. It set records for its mammoth opening weekend.

Another Shrek gets TV time

A real-life Shrek – not a swamp-dwelling ogre but a Merino sheep from New Zealand – went missing for six years before being found in 2004. In the time in between, Shrek had accumulated 60 pounds of wool that was shorn in a live event on national television in New Zealand. While Shrek’s wool was auctioned off for charity, the sheep itself became a national celebrity, meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark at parliament.

Ken Jennings goes on a winning streak

The year of 2004 gave birth to perhaps the most successful game-show contestant in history. Ken Jennings won 74 consecutive games of Jeopardy!, earning US$2.52-million in the process. He returned to the show over the years before becoming a co-host in 2021 following the death of long-time host Alex Trebek. Jennings’s remarkable streak has yet to be matched. In 2022, Amy Schneider came the closest any contestant has to reaching Jennings when she won 40 consecutive games.

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"Jeopardy!" contestant Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive games, cracks his knuckles before starting a practice match against another "Jeopardy!" champion and an IBM computer called "Watson" in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., Jan. 13, 2011.Seth Wenig/The Associated Press

Martha Stewart heads to prison

Business executive Martha Stewart, known for her cookbooks and magazines, was charged with four counts of obstructing justice and lying to investigators in March, 2004. She served five months in prison and five months in home confinement.

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Martha Stewart (C) stands with lawyer Robert Morvillo (R) after speaking with reporters after her sentencing on obstruction of justice charges in New York on July 16, 2004. Stewart's sentence included five months in prison and five months home confinement, and was fined $30,000, pending appeal.Peter Morgan

Friends ends

The year of 2004 marked the end of the long-running sitcom Friends after 10 seasons on NBC. The last episode became the fourth-biggest series finale in history with 52.5 million viewers, behind only M*A*S*H, Cheers and Seinfeld. Thousands watched the finale on big screens in New York City, while advertisements on the broadcast sold for lucrative amounts.

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From left to right: Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow.Terence Patrick/HBO MAX

Michael Phelps wins his first Olympic medals

While American swimmer Michael Phelps made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia at age 15, he walked away without a medal. That all changed in 2004 at the Olympics in Athens, Greece, when he won six gold medals and two bronze. It was just the beginning for Phelps, who brought home eight gold in 2008 and six medals each in 2012 and 2016.

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Michael Phelps of the United States stands on the medal stand before receiving the gold medal for the men's swimming 100 metre butterfly event on August 20, 2004 during the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.Shaun Botterill/The Canadian Press

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