After a forgettable loss to the Detroit Red Wings the Lightning looked to get back on track against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The last time the two teams met, the Lightning power play proved to be their downfall. Hungry to keep the third place spot in the division, the Leafs played with determination to keep the Lightning from ever finding a way to steal away a win in Toronto. The lack of power play production from the Lightning would again be the deciding factor of the game.
Once again the Lighting were without captain Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman as they recover from injury. The loss of Stamkos seems to have crippled the Lightning power play as the team would go 0-4 on the man advantage. Toronto easily took advantage of that to keep the game close period after period.
Toronto dominates the opening period
Early in the period Toronto looked like the better team. The Lightning defense was tested early as the Leafs offense constantly got shots on net. With about nine minutes to go in the period the Lightning finally registered a shot on goal. Toronto got on the board first thanks to a power play goal by William Nylander. It was only a matter of time before Toronto finally broke through Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy stood tall to keep this a one goal game despite the Leafs dominating the first period.
The second period started off more to Tampa Bay’s liking. The Bolts offense got to work early applying pressure to the Leafs’ defense. Shots were 8 to 1 in favor of the Lightning for the first 5 minutes of the period. 4 of those shots came on Lightning power plays. A power play proved to be the spark the Lightning needed to finally get the offense going. But despite a couple of power play opportunities, the Bolts still could not find an answer to Frederik Andersen.
Tampa Bay strikes back
Tampa Bay finally got on the board thanks to a goal by Ondrej Palat. Brayden Point made a nice power move to draw a penalty, but Nikita Kucherov fired a shot on goal that rebounded to Palat. Palat then fired the shot past Andersen to tie the game with a little over 4 minutes left in the period. Tampa Bay showed more poise in the second period compared to the first and looked to carry that momentum into the third period.
Toronto regains command
Once again, the Lightning offense got to work early and pressured the Leafs defense to start the period. The Leafs answered back with some solid scoring chances, but could not score off of those chances. Toronto then got an early chance on the power play. A costly check by Erik Cernak gave the Leafs an opportunity to take the lead with another power play goal. Auston Matthews ripped a shot that Vasilvesky had no chance on to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead early in the period.
Lightning find no answers
Toronto again looked like the better team preventing Tampa Bay from getting back into the game midway through the period. The Lightning offense could not generate anything for the remainder of the period. Toronto’s defense remained tight and that was enough to seal the win. Some late chances by the Lightning were nullified by the great play of Fredrik Andersen. Going 0-4 on the man advantage is inexcusable, and should be addressed for the next game. Tampa Bay returns home on Thursday to host the Philadelphia Flyers.
Three stars of the game
1st Star: Mitchell Marner – 2 assists on the night
2nd Star: Frederik Andersen – Saved 35 of 36 shots faced
3rd Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy – Saved 31 of 33 shots faced
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