The first period was largely evenly played with both teams controlling play at times. However, it was Toronto who managed to gain the edge in possession with 52% of the shot share, but Tampa Bay had the quality edge at 61%.
Tampa Bay did struggle with Toronto’s two bottom lines in zone time. The lines of Ondrej-Palat-Barclay Goodrow-Tyler Johnson and Pat Maroon-Cedric Paquette-Yanni Gourde were caved in. Both lines generated two attempts for and five against. They did manage to keep the Leafs to the perimeter of the zone, but it mattered little on Jake Muzzin’s goal.
Conversely, Tampa Bay’s top two lines of Steven Stamkos-Brayden Point-Nikita Kucherov and Blake Coleman-Anthony Cirelli-Alex Killorn worked Toronto relentlessly. Both lines controlled north of 55% of the shot share highlighted by Kucherov’s opening goal from Stamkos and Hedman.
A bad slashing penalty from Coleman put Tampa Bay in the early hole as a Tyson Barrie point shot was tipped by John Tavares to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. As the period waned, Kevin Shattenkirk was penalized for a questionable roughing call, but the Lightning penalty kill pushed back for two shorthanded chances before the period expired.
Special teams might not be the end all be all in a hockey game, but they can easily throw a game away. Tampa Bay coughed up a goal in the first on the penalty kill and they did the same in the second. At 5v5, this period was the opposite of the first. Tampa Bay controlled possession at 55%, but Toronto won the quality battle at 60%.
Another issue with the goals the Lightning allowed in the second was timing. John Tavares reclaimed the lead for Toronto just 31 seconds after Pat Maroon tied the game at two. Prior to Maroon’s goal, the Lightning had dictated the pace and pushed Toronto around. They had the momentum, but with William Nylander winning a puck battle high in the zone against Kucherov and then feeding a wide open Tavares, they threw it away.
This was followed by a dual penalty call on Shattenkirk; one for high sticking and the other for slashing. Toronto promptly scored on the power-play to extend their lead to two goals—leaving Nylander alone in front of your net doesn’t seem like a sound plan.
Too little too late for Tampa Bay. They dictated everything in the third and did manage to pull within one after Gourde’s goal. But Frederik Andersen stood tall (something he hasn’t done in a few weeks for Toronto) and secured the win for the Leafs.
There were opportunities there for the Lightning, but they seemed to prefer shooting from far out instead of forcing the Leafs defense to move on the inside. Numerous Lightning shots were blocked and no matter how hard they applied pressure on him, Andersen wouldn’t budge.
Tampa Bay controlled 56% of the shot attempts at 5v5 and generated an xGF% of 61%. Their second period was ugly as were the special teams, but like Cooper said in his presser, they played well enough at even strength. This game was lost on special teams (and some horrid blown coverage).
Meh. I’m not overly worried. Rough time to go on a three game losing streak but Tampa Bay is comfortably ahead of Toronto. Let’s not have short memories here.
Kucherov goal to make it 1-0
Muzzin ties it at 1
Tavares goal to make it 2-1
Maroon ties it at 2
Tavares goal to make it 3-2
Nylander shows off to score a gorgeous goal to make it 4-2
Gourde makes it 4-3