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Road trip continues in Toronto with the return of Mikhail Sergachev

The road trip continued tonight in Toronto. An overall disappointment. No extended zone time to really speak of with chances coming mostly as a one off on the rush. Andrei Vasilevskiy the bright spot. The road trip continued tonight in Toronto. It was Vasilevskiy against Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Michael Bunting for three periods.

Slow start

A quick few chances right off the opening faceoff for Brayden Point were dispelled and the Toronto Maple Leafs had the better share of the chances that found themselves saved by Andrei Vasilevskiy. Just about all offensive zone time for the Tampa Bay Lightning was owned by Point and Nikita Kucherov. The eighth shot, a one timed wrister, from the slot by Michael Bunting found its way passed several players and the Tampa Bay netminder for the games opening goal. William Nylander sent him the pass from the wall where he was heading for the blue line.

The games first power-play was awarded to the Leafs in the closing 18 seconds after a trip from Ian Cole and a cluster of great saves by Vasilevskiy. A small scrum at the whistle led to two more calls for roughing to Tampa’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Bunting, the games lone scorer up to this point. Only four shots by the Lightning in the opening from two by Point and two by Nick Perbix.

A dangerous four on three opportunity strikes

The second period opened right where the first ceased. The Bolts managed to break even in the four on four, but prior to that an Auston Matthews wrister from the the top of the circle gave Toronto the two nothing lead. The power-play assists from Rasmus Sandin and Mitch Marner. Minutes later Kucherov took an interference penalty that was killed off. Just over half way through the frame the Lightning were awarded their first and only power-play opportunity after Steven Stamkos was hooked on a net-front scoring chance by Timothy Liljegren. Stamkos almost put in an own goal during that opportunity in which they managed just one good shot by Ross Colton. The period closed with only eight shots by Tampa against 28.

Come back falls short in this road trip game

A stronger start lead to an offensive zone faceoff where Stamkos won it forward and Vladislav Namestnikov fought through Conor Timmins to backhand one on Toronto’s Matt Murray before putting in his own rebound. Toronto responded with a shot off the post and another scoring chance for Matthews. The best period for the Bolts with much more pressure and more total shots than they had displayed in the first two frames. The closing minutes saw Vasilevskiy head to the bench and Toronto immediately capitalize on the empty net opportunity. Then again they scored an empty net goal. Pierre Engvall and Nylander put those in for a final score of four to one.  The assists went to David Kampf, Mark Giordano, and Calle Jarnkrok.

A disappointing sequel

The second game of this road trip looked quite different to the last outing. This one showed no urgency or zone time, many missed or bad passes, but little penalties. The first two periods saw only four shots by Tampa each. The third period saw a nice uptick to 11 shots resulting in the one and only goal the Lightning were able to pot. Namestnikov put a backhand shot on from the bottom of the circle that put Murray into an odd position where he couldn’t make the second save.

Both non empty net Toronto goals were good opportunities where it appeared Vasilevskiy was screened. He, however, was a highlight reel on his own tonight making excellent stop after stop. Without him in goal tonight Toronto could have had six tallies without the need of empty net goals. Matthews and Nylander were consistent threats. Marner, Bunting, and John Tavares all had great chances denied. Murray did make some quality saves on the rush. Point had two good chances to open the game that he shut the door on. Colton’s powerplay shot looked quite similar. Outside of those shots there wasn’t too much work for him. Onto the next game of this road trip on Wednesday, December 21st at Detroit.


Three stars of the game

1st Star: Andrei Vasilevskiy- 36 saves

Photo courtesy of Alex Walworth, Scrum staff photographer.

2nd Star: William Nylander- one goal one assist

3rd Star: Matt Murray- 18 saves


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