The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t show up to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Canada and they suffered the consequences for the full 60 minutes en route to a 2-1 loss. Ondrej Palat scored for the Bolts, but William Nylander and Auston Matthews each had a goal on the power play for the win.
The Lightning started the game out-shot 0-11, holding absolutely none of the possession in the game. Despite the shots ending somewhere close (33-36), they didn’t look any better in terms of controlling the puck through the last two periods either. They let the Leafs take control of the game and could never get it back.
This is the style of game the Lightning excel in, and the Leafs beat them at their own game.
This can’t happen in the playoffs.
The Leafs maintained possession with their first two lines against Tampa’s. Once the third line got out, the Lightning got a little bit stronger on their forecheck and pushed the Leafs out of their zone. Morgan Rielly got a shot from the point with the fourth lines out. Jason Spezza got a couple jabs on Vasy on the rebound after Erik Cernak got stripped low in the zone and Ryan McDonagh got caught trying to cover two players at once.
It was not a good first five minutes for the Lightning as they started the period out-shot 0-6 by the Leafs. William Nylander beat McDonagh in front of the net and had to be hooked. Hey, Bolts, I can understand when Nylander takes two shots on you, but please don’t let Frederik Gauthier, Kyle Clifford, and Cody Ceci take shots on you before you even get your first.
Then a scary moment on the penalty kill when Mikhail Sergachev took an Auston Matthews slap shot directly to the back of his head. It hit the helmet, but it was mighty low and easily could’ve hit the soft spot right below the helmet line and above the neck. The play was stopped immediately and Sergachev stayed on the bench according to the cameras.
Luckily, the Lightning killed off the penalty without giving up any major chances, and Sergachev was out on the ice for his next shift.
10 minutes into the period, the Bolts still hadn’t a shot. They were close as Carter Verhaeghe and Cedric Paquette were getting away, but they were both taken out by Rasmus Sandin, who promptly got an interference penalty.
Of course, they gave up a shorthanded chance to Pierre Engvall, who hit the post, after a turnover at the blueline. Kevin Shattenkirk got the first shot of the game for Tampa from a bad angle, it opened up a rebound, but Anthony Cirelli wasn’t able to get it to settle. Shattenkirk had another chance from the point with Frederik Andersen completely out of the play, but Ceci blocked it with his skate.
Aaaand immediately after the power play, they got stuck in their own zone and Barclay Goodrow got called for another hook. Nylander (of course) scored his 31st of the season assisted by John Tavares on the power play. Again, Cernak made a mistake being too aggressive on Marner and left McDonagh to look at Tavares, try to cover Matthews, and stop the stick of Nylander all in one motion.
I think Gourde and Paquette on the wings should play lower on the penalty kill and cover the wings. The Leafs aren’t dangerous with the puck on Marner or Barrie’s stick, they only have seven power play goals between them in 185 minutes each. Nylander, Tavares, and Matthews have 26 goals in equal, or slightly more time.
The Lightning got a four shots and five attempts in the final minutes of the period, but it didn’t matter, they got completely hosed. For the Lightning in the period, they had 15 shot attempts (they had two before the Nylander goal), and six shots. The Leafs, on the other hand, had 29 shot attempts and 18 shots.
Can someone tell me if this is good?
During the intermission, we didn’t get any player interviews from the Lightning while the Leafs broadcast had Nylander on theirs. Most likely coach Jon Cooper was yelling at his team for yet another utterly garbage start to the game.
I liked my reaction to the first shift of the second period a lot better than the first shift of the first. It was a little disjointed with the puck bouncing around in the neutral zone a lot, but the Lightning caused some turnovers and revealed the obvious weakness that the Leafs have in their defensemen in their own zone.
Verhaeghe got a breakaway, but he was stopped by Andersen. Tyler Johnson also got in behind Barrie and nearly scored on the backhand. He had another breakaway after beating both Rielly and Barrie in a footrace after a turnover in front of the Leafs bench. Rielly jumped on the net and knocked it off before the Lightning could score on the rebound so he got a penalty for delay-of-game.
Bad luck again for the defense as Cernak got hit in the knee by a shot from Nylander right in the slot (why was he there, Lightning? Hmm.). Cernak actually had to leave the game and went down the tunnel with 14 minutes left in the period. He made two bad plays in the first, but he’s still a very valuable player for the Lightning and it sucked to see him gone from the game.
Despite the injury, the Lightning kept up their improved play and Cirelli pressed Justin Holl into taking a hooking penalty as the two raced into the corner. Cirelli fell somewhat hard into the boards, but he seemed no worse for ware.
Point and Kucherov combined for another brilliant low-to-high pass. Point was on the left side corner and he got the puck on the backhand to Kucherov at the right faceoff circle. Andersen got across and made a good save on the hard shot. The Lightning ran out of time on the power play, but they looked pretty good while they had the chance.
Good news and bad news. Bad news, Blake Coleman took a goalie interference penalty (he ran into Andersen’s head). Good news, Cernak returned to the game for the penalty kill.
Good sign, Cernak is back on the ice for the penalty kill.— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) March 11, 2020
Further proving the point that the Leafs defense is trash, Brayden Point split Barrie and Sandin, opening up a shooting lane for Kucherov. His shot was saved but with Barrie’s ass on the ice, Palat was wide open to bury the rebound. The goal was Palat’s 17th of the season Point didn’t get an assist on the goal (dumb) but Kucherov got his 52nd assist of the season and 85th point.
And despite an awful first period, the Lightning were in a tie game heading into the third period. Big shoutout to Vasilevskiy for being really solid and keeping the boys in the game.
Shattenkirk took a stick from Denis Malgin right in his right ear. They had to stop the play for him to get back to the bench. There didn’t appear to be any blood, but it also didn’t look like it just tickled.
The Lightning looked a lot better in the second period than they did in the first. Unfortunately, that was only enough to be about average against the Leafs at 5v5 — shots were about even. However, the Lightning had eight shots on three power plays and that brought them to about even in terms of total shots.
Palat was the star of the period, and not just for the goal. After two periods, he had a shot differential of 10-2 in his favor and owned 96.7% of the expected goals. Most of those expected goals came from his own stick.
The Lightning had a decent start to the third, but Paquette got called for tripping. Matthews scored his 47th on the power play.
The Lightning finally seemed to listen to me as they got really aggressive in front of the net. They started to crowd out Andersen and make things difficult for the Leafs defense. Especially Alex Killorn, who jumped on a rebound — and by extension Andersen — during a loose-puck scrum.
Alex Killorn decided he wanted a piggyback ride pic.twitter.com/NjR11rUSQZ— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 11, 2020
I didn’t like how the Lightning followed up on that good bit of aggression against the Leafs. They had a few chances from the outside and not much else. Somehow, they still weren’t able to hold the puck longer than the Leafs. They just seemed a step slow everywhere.
I think a level of frustration set in for the Lightning by this point in the third, it was released when Cernak got called for “tripping” Hyman behind the net. The dejected faces of the Lightning as they stood there waiting for Cernak to touch the puck was palpable.
I think the Lightning need to use that anger a lot more when they play. It makes them more aggressive, and honestly, faster. They can sometimes get themselves lulled into chasing the game that can be toxic for the entire 60 minutes. It’s one of the tactics that they excel in when they’re the ones doing it — possession, possession, possession. But when it’s not working for them, that’s when they need to get angry.
The Lightning pulled the puck with 1:18 left in the third and Sergachev’s shot right from the faceoff nearly went in, but Andersen was able to block it out while his stick bounced behind him into the boards. Another point shot from Sergachev bounced around all the posts (literally) and trickled out.
So close, but no cigar. Lightning lose.
- The first period was awful. The one real moment when the Lightning looked good was Shattenkirk’s point shot on the power play. It was because directly before, Cirelli, Gourde, and Palat drive the net hard and got the puck back to the point quickly while the Leafs were still trying to sort out what was happening. Andersen was completely out of the net and if it weren’t for Ceci blocking the shot with his skate, the Lightning would’ve scored first.
- They needed to be nastier in the first period. By far. They needed to drive the net hard every time they got the puck, and they needed to be a lot more liberal in terms of sticks and body checks on the forecheck.
- Side show, Pat Maroon and Zach Hyman. They were going at it starting all the way in the first period. There were some pretty rough shoves and headlocks in front of the net, and some tangled sticks within legs during faceoffs. That relationship (which is how I see any tough-guy rivalry) is definitely something to watch as these teams run at each other towards Game #83.