The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs entered tonight with different expectations for their teams, while still having the same intentions; get a win. The Lightning would look to continue their road trip with another win against a team they should beat. While the young and upcoming Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to snag a win as they get to see how their talented youngsters stacked up against one of the NHL’s premiere teams.
The Lightning would waste little time ending their 1st period scoreless streak as Tampa defensemen Andej Sustr would force a turnover from prized Toronto rookie Auston Matthews, leading to a quick Steven Stamkos goal only a minute into the game. The goal would be Stamkos’s 4th of the season, and give the Lightning their first 1-0 lead of the 2016 season in the 1st period. Ben Bishop would also start fast after having a rough start his last outing against the Colorado Avalanche. Bishop would make a few nice saves and start a couple of offensive rushes with some of his patented cross ice passes. Tampa’s constant pressure would pay dividends as a red-hot Alex Killorn would tip in a rebound off a Brayden Point shot, giving the Bolts a 2-0 lead on the winger’s 5th goal of the season midway through the 1st period. The teams would exchange a couple of nice open ice rushes, and there were very few stoppages throughout the 1st period allowing the Tampa offense to keep a great rhythm. The rhythm would lead to another Steven Stamkos goal as the Tampa captain would blast a one-time shot off the far post past Leafs goalie Frederik Anderson for a commanding 3-0 lead late in the 1st period. Stamkos’s 2nd goal of the game would give him 5 goals on the season, and propel the Lightning into the break with a 3-0 after playing their best 1st period of the 2016 season.
The second period would start with both teams trading early penalties but neither could capitalize with the man advantage. Ben Bishop would continue his strong play on the night turning aside multiple close range shots from the young talented top 2 Leaf lines. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman would net his 1st goal of the season after having an earlier shot robbed, early in the 2nd after a beautiful pass from Steven Stamkos extending Tampa’s big lead to 4-0. Ben Bishop would have a scare midway through the second period after taking a big shot off his goalie mask. The trainers would come out to check on him, as Bishop took his mask off and cameras showed him missing multiple front teeth due to the impact of his mask on his mouth. However, showing why hockey players are considered some of the toughest athletes in all of sports, Bishop would refuse to leave the game and not miss a single second of play. Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov would take a holding the stick penalty late in the 2nd period giving the Leafs their second power play of the game. Toronto winger William Nylander would make sure the Leafs would not waste the extra man opportunity as he beat Ben Bishop on a quick one time shot cutting the Lighting lead to 4-1 late in the 2nd period. The 2nd period would end with the Lightning maintaining their 3 goal lead.
Nesterov would start the 3rd period with another penalty giving the Leafs some early momentum but this time the Lightning penalty kill unit would hold keeping the game at 4-1. Nikita Kucherov would get in on the scoring action midway through the period, tallying his 1st goal of the year and giving the Lightning a commanding 5-1 lead. Unfortunately the Lightning would need that Kucherov goal as they would quickly give up back to back goals midway through the 3rd period after some really sloppy and lazy play in back to back shifts. James Van Riemsdyk would make the game 5-2, and Leafs dynamo rookie Auston Matthews would get his 6th goal of the season to make it a 5-3 game with about half a period to play. Jason Garrison would make matters worse taking another Lightning penalty setting up a Leafs power play and giving them a glimmer of hope. The Lightning penalty kill would respond when the team needed them most killing the power play and effectively ending any chance at a dramatic Toronto comeback. Leafs center Mitch Marner would take a high sticking penalty late in the 3rd giving the Lightning a double minor power play. The Lightning would make Toronto pay as Vladislav Namestnikov would score first followed by Jonathan Drouin who would laser another shot past Andersen making it blowout once again at 7-3. This time the big lead would hold, and the Lightning would get their second consecutive road win in impressive fashion.
The Lightning would improve to 5-1-0, and 10 points. The Leafs would fall to 1-2-3, for 5 points on the year.
The Lightning will continue their road trip through Canada on Thursday night when they head to Montreal to take on the Montreal Canadiens beginning at 7:30 pm.
MY THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1st Star: Ben Bishop – Finished the game like a boss despite losing his front teeth in what looks like an extremely painful injury. He let in 3 goals but 2 of them were due to his teammates, and he stopped another 40 shots. Bishop played his best game of the season despite the 3 goals, even while suffering an injury.
2nd Star: Steven Stamkos – The captain buried two goals, and added two assists.
3rd Star: Alex Killorn – Scored his 5th goal on the season, and making Steve Yzerman look like a genius for the bargain contract extension he signed Killorn to while getting this kind of early season production from him.
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