Lucas Viveiros | Report
The Toronto Maple Leafs put up a valiant effort on Thursday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but couldn’t muster up the result, dropping the game 4-1.
The Buds fired a season best 49 shots at Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, but the tendy was up to the task in his return from injury, only surrendering one goal to arguably the most dangerous offense in the league.
It looked like Toronto was in the driver’s seat right from puck drop, as Kasperi Kapanen would intercept a risky pass from Bolts superstar Nikita Kucherov, and fire the puck over the glove of Vasilevskiy to put the Leafs in front 1-0.
Tampa would storm back just under three minutes later when William Nylander attempted to break into the Lightning zone on the power-play, but instead turned the puck over at the offensive blue-line. That would result in a break away for Tampa young gun Anthony Cirelli, who would make no mistake and backhanded it past Andersen to even the score at one’s.
The Leafs would respond with a plethora of high quality chances throughout the first, as Nazem Kadri, Auston Matthews and John Tavares would all be denied on major scoring opportunities.
Following these key saves, Nikita Kucherov would break the deadlock with 14:30 left to play in the second. On the goal Kucherov would release a one-timer, which at first glance seemed to be kept out by Andersen’s glove. That is until video review showed Andersen’s glove did cross the goal line with the puck, making it 2-1 Tampa.
The Lightning would continue to add to their lead before the end of the second, as Alex Killorn would make the game 3-1 on a back-hander from the slot with under 40 seconds to play in the period.
And it wouldn’t stop there, the Lightning would add another to make it 4-1, beating the buzzer with only 0.9 seconds to go in the middle period courtesy Tyler Johnson’s one-timer.
If Toronto had any hope at stringing together a comeback it was lost when Vasilevskiy would deny Marleau with a save of the year candidate under two minutes into the third period. The Lightning goaltender would drag the puck off the line and out with his right pad, and receive some help from d-man Victor Hedman, who would fire the puck away from the danger.
Although Toronto would outplay and outshoot the Lightning 49-21, the league’s best team showed why they are where they are in the standings, with a dangerous offense, effective defense, and most importantly have one of the best goaltender’s in the game.
Round one between these two clubs this season would end with Tampa winning 4-1.
Revisit the game’s highlights below.
Next, the Maple Leafs will carry on in the sunshine state, taking on the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm from BB&T Center, and can be viewed on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
More news from the ice
- Zach Hyman served the second game of his two game suspension which he received for his late hit on Bruins d-man Charlie McAvoy last Saturday
- Patrick Marleau played in his 738th consecutive regular season game, passing Jay Bouwmeester for the 7th longest streak in NHL history
- Andrei Vasilevskiy tied the franchise record for saves in a game with 48, setting a career high for himself
- The Maple Leafs mother’s were brought on this road trip to enjoy time with their son’s, as they’ll also see the Leafs take on the Panthers on Saturday
Out of town scoreboard
Thursday December 13th
Arizona 1 Buffalo 3
Los Angeles 1 Columbus 4
Carolina 4 Montreal 6
Vancouver 3 Nashville 4 (OT)
Florida 1 Minnesota 5
Edmonton 4 Winnipeg 5 (OT)
Dallas 2 San Jose 3
More coverage to follow. Image from Maple Leafs Hot Stove.