Tavares' two goals help Leafs rebound with win over Lightning
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 4 - TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3 FINAL
Tampa, FL – After an embarrassing 6-3 loss to emergency backup goaltender Dave Ayres and the Hurricanes on Saturday, the Leafs needed a more complete effort from their team. That’s exactly what they got on Tuesday night in Tampa, holding off a late comeback from the Lightning in a 4-3 win.
William Nylander scored once while John Tavares had two goals for the Leafs. Jake Muzzin also scored before missing the third period following a blocked shot off his hand late in the second period.
Nikita Kucherov, Patrick Maroon, and Yanni Gourde all scored for Tampa Bay, who have now lost three straight games in regulation for the first time this season.
It also marks the first time since December 14 that the Lightning have lost a game in regulation at home, a span of 73 days.
Toronto scored twice on the powerplay while killing off three Tampa Bay opportunities, holding them to just one shot on the man advantage.
Frederik Andersen was great in this game, making 26 saves.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 19 shots in the loss.
The game began with a much better effort compared to their last contest for the Leafs. They built up some great offensive zone time early on, as the game was off to a fast start with both teams showcasing their speed.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring midway through the first period. Toronto got caught with a tired line on the ice after an icing, and the Bolts took advantage. Steven Stamkos found Kucherov at the side of the net and he made no mistake, scoring his 30th goal of the season to make it 1-0.
Kucherov has at least one point in 17 consecutive games that he’s played.
The Leafs responded with 7:12 to go. Muzzin, who signed a four-year contract extension on Monday, fired a point shot on net. The shot found its way through traffic in front, beating Vasilevskiy for Muzzin’s sixth goal of the year and tied the game at 1-1.
Less than three minutes later, Toronto went to the man advantage. Nylander drew a slashing penalty in Tampa’s end after a strong Toronto shift.
On the powerplay. The Leafs struck again on a similar play.
Tavares tipped home a Tyson Barrie shot from the blue line, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead late in the frame.
Toronto had two great penalty kills to begin the middle period. They held Tampa Bay without a shot on both powerplays while generating some shorthanded odd-man rushes.
Andersen made one of his great saves midway through the frame, stopping a Stamkos shot off a rebound in the slot.
The Lightning capitalized on the very next shift.
Like two of the previous goals, it began with a shot from the blueline. Kevin Shattenkirk shot it from the point before it was tipped by both Cedric Paquette and Maroon on the way in. Maroon’s eighth of the year made it 2-2.
Just 31 seconds later, Toronto took the lead right back.
Off a broken play, Tavares took the puck along the half-wall and skated into the slot. His backhand went over the shoulder of Vasilevskiy, giving the Leafs a 3-2 lead. It was also his second goal of the game.
Shortly after, Nylander scored an incredible goal on a Leafs powerplay.
He took a pass in front of Vasilevskiy before putting the puck between his legs and finding the top corner of the net. The highlight-reel goal was his 28th of the season and made it 4-2 Toronto.
Midway through the third, it was a new addition for the Lightning who helped pull them within one.
Barclay Goodrow, who Tampa traded for on Monday’s trade deadline day, passed it to Shattenkirk. The defenceman threw the puck towards Andersen before it deflected off Gourde and into the net. It was his ninth of the year, and it was now 4-3.
The Bolts pulled Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker with just over 1:30 to go in the game. Despite some frantic chances, Andersen shut the door to seal the Toronto win.
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos left the game following the second period and did not return for undisclosed reasons.
The Leafs won’t have to travel far for their next matchup, as they’ll take on the Panthers in Sunrise on Thursday night.