The Tampa Bay Lightning responded in a big way, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 in game two to even the series at one. After a subpar effort in game one Tampa Bay put forth a very solid effort. They were physical in the right, took advantage of their opportunities and for the most part managed the puck well. The Lightning’s top guns were also their best players as Victor Hedman picked up 4 points, while Nikita Kucherov got three and multiple others contributed.
It was clear from the start of the first period that the Lightning looked miles better to start game two. Their passing was much better, they played with more urgency, and as a result started to spend more time in the Toronto zone. However, there was no slacking on the part of the Leafs. The Brayden Point line got off to very solid start and set the tone for the Lightning. Despite this, the first period was relatively even Although Tampa Bay carried over their solid penalty killing from game one, Toronto had a lot of good looks but couldn’t capitalize. Towards the tail end of the first, Toronto has the Lightning on their heels. Tampa Bay bent but did not break, in large part due to Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Then with less than a minute to go in the first, Alexander Kerfoot took a holding penalty. The powerplay, which had already looked better, finally got its opportunity. With just a second remaining in the first period, the puck bounced to Victor Hedman who found himself all alone in front of Jack Campbell. Hedman out-waited and put it past Campbell to give the Lightning the ever important first goal.
Big moment in the Second
The second period was the Lightning’s best period of the game. They managed the puck well, were physical in the right way, and defended very well. They were able to kept Toronto’s scoring chances to a minimum and as we’ve become accustomed to seeing turning solid defense into offense. However, there was one moment early in the second that changed the course of the game. After a scramble in front of the Lightning William Nylander slid the puck to Timothy Liljegren who wired a shot that seemed destined to hit the back of the net. However, Vasilevskiy pushed across and miraculously snagged the puck out of mid air. Nursing a 1-0 lead, that save was one of the biggest moments of the game. Then just moments later, Hedman hit Corey Perry with a beautiful led fed that led to breakaway and a 2-0 Lightning lead, completing the two goal swing.
Special Teams turn around
For all the problems that the Lightning had on the powerplay in game one, there were very little in game two. As expected, the Bolts were able to make adjustments on their zone entires and thus were able to set up with ore regularity. For all the talk that this series would be a “borderline violent” series because of the Lightning, its been the Leaf’s that have been the agitators. And the Bolt’s made them pay. Tampa Bay scored three powerplay goals including two off of penalties by Wayne Simmonds. Point and Kucherov picked up a PPG each in addition to Hedman’s tally late in the first.
One of the only parts of the Lightning’s game that was good in game one was the penalty kill and it remained good in game two. Tampa Bay killed off all four of Toronto’s powerplay opportunities. This included the first two penalties of the game and huge kill late in the second to keep the game 3-1.
On paper, the third period was an even draw. Both teams scored two goals and had a whole host of chances. However, it didn’t go the way one might think. Tampa Bay’s first ten minutes of the third was textbook. They moved the puck well, were able to exit the zone cleanly, got the puck deep, and took advantage of their opportunities. Brandon Hagel tucked in a rebound to make it 4-1 which would turn out to be the game-winner. Not long after Point would his powerplay tally to make it a comfortable 5-1 lead.
However, at the ten minute mark the Lightning laid back a bit and with nothing to lose Toronto came charging back. Mitch Marner made it 5-2 with a weird bounce that slid past Vasilevskiy. Then Kerfoot closed the gap again with the Leaf’s second short-handed goal of the series. However it came too little too late. The Lightning were able to kill off penalty with the Campbell pulled to seal the win. Although it wasn’t a perfect game, it was a major response on the part of the Lightning as they evened the series at a game a piece.
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