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Alex Killorn’s overtime goal leads Lightning over Leafs, 4-3

Welcome back, Tony Two Helpers

NHL: DEC 03 Maple Leafs at Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a game that felt like a continuation from their first round playoff match-up from last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-3, on an overtime goal by Alex Killorn. Vlad Namestnikov, Nikita Kucherov, and Ross Colton also scored for the Bolts while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves in net. Mitch Marner (x2) and William Nylander were the goal scorers for Toronto while Matt Murray stopped 29 shots.

Following a touching tribute honoring Steven Stamkos’ 1,000 points, the two teams treated the sold out crowd at Amalie Arena to a back-and-forth affair that was highlighted by special teams goals. The Lightning went 2-for-6 on the power play while the Leafs were 1-for-5 and scored a shorthanded goal.

In his return to action, Anthony Cirelli picked up two assists (and one crashing of the net). Corey Perry also recorded two points while Namestnikov picked up his first goal of the season.

First Period:

The Lightning had their first chance with the extra skater early in the period, but were unable to convert, though they did generate a couple of good chances. Still, despite the inability to score with the extra skater, the Lightning were rolling their lines pretty well and getting consistent pressure on the Leafs defense. The reunited fourth line in particular was standing out as Corey Perry had a couple of point-blank chances.

An icing call and some sustained zone time for the Leafs led to a penalty by Ian Cole and Toronto had their first crack at the power play. The Lightning killed it off with Nick Paul having an adventurous shift. In the final minute he was able to lead a two-on-one that Mitch Marner broke up by deflecting the pass right back to Paul who wasn’t able to kick it to his stick. As the play reversed direction Paul skated all the way back to break up a chance at the other end.

The Leafs second power play opportunity had a lot more bend-don’t-break energy to it with Vasilevskiy having to make a couple of solid saves on Auston Matthews. Break they didn’t and the score remained knotted at zeros.

The game was still scoreless at the end of the first twenty minutes despite the Lightning being halfway through their second power play of the period.

Overall, it was a pretty even opening frame with the Lightning have a slight edge at scoring chances (7-6) and high-danger chances (2-1).

Second Period

The teams continued their special teams trade off with the teams swapping power play chances in the first five minutes of the period. It had been awhile since the Lightning allowed a shorthanded goal. In fact they were so rusty that they had to give the Leafs two golden chances to score a shortie. On the second attempt, Mitch Marner buried it, extending his points streak to a Toronto franchise record 19 games.

Mitch Marner (David Kampf) Shorthanded, 1-0 Maple Leafs

While Marner has been scoring like a mid-80s Wayne Gretzky, Vlad Namestnikov has been racking up goals like a modern day Matt Smaby (122 career games, no NHL goals). Tonight that ended as The Russian Bieber scored his first goal of the season.

Vlad Namestnikov (Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak) 1-1

Anthony Cirelli picked up a primary assist on the play by...getting hit by a shot by Erik Cernak. Welcome back, Tony! For Namestnikov it was 1,745 days between goals in a Lightning uniform.

Following the goal, the Lightning picked things up (it also helped that they stayed out of the penalty box). Leafs’ goaltender Matt Murray also started to fight the puck a bit. He fumbled an easy point shot from Ian Cole. Then he was beaten by a deflection by Brayden Point but saved by the post. Then Point put it in the back of the net, under the pad, but Murray was bailed out by a review that confirmed Brandon Hagel was offside on the entry. Shortly after that Murray was bowled over by Anthony Cirelli. So, yeah, a fun few minutes for the netminder.

Following the neutral zone face-off after the mandatory “you were pushed into our goaltender” fracas, Erik Cernak wasn’t able to win a puck battle behind the Lightning goal and William Nylander flicked a backhander past Vasilevskiy to reestablish the one-goal lead. Twenty-two seconds of flip-flopping momentum.

William Nylander (Auston Matthews, Michael Bunting) 2-1 Maple Leafs

The Lightning calmed things down a bit with a really strong penalty kill (Kucherov was in the box for a blatant cross-check) that included a shorthanded chance created by Cirelli.

In another period that had less than 13 minutes of 5v5 time, the Leafs had the slight edge in shots, but a pretty wide margin in scoring chances (12-8) and high-danger chances (6-2).

Third Period

Despite both teams having players in the box already, the refs just couldn’t help themselves as Mitch Marner was whistled for tripping on the opening face-off. That led to a good ol’ fashioned 4-on-3 for the Lightning. Deploy the four forward unit! Coach Cooper ran them out there and it paid off as Kucherov snuck a shot through traffic and into the back of the net.

Nikita Kucherov (Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry) Power Play, 2-2

If one power play goal is good, two are better. After Timothy Liljegren went to the box for interference, the second unit for the Bolts took advantage of a little chaos around the net to take the lead. With Murray screened and searching for the puck and the Leaf defenders scrambling, the Bolts showed pretty good patience in working it around to Ross Colton, who buried it into a pretty open net.

Ross Colton (Mikhail Sergachev, Corey Perry) Power Play, 3-2 Lightning

Special teams giveth and they taketh away. Sergachev went to the box and the Leafs went on the power play. Nick Paul tried to clear a puck, but his stick broke. Instead of trying to defend without a stick, he went to the bench for a new twig, which gave the Leafs a momentary two-skater advantage down low. Mitch Marner found an open area and snapped a shot past Vasilevskiy.

Mitch Marner (unassisted) Power Play, 3-3

Turnabout is fair play. The Lightning had a goal pulled off the board in the second and the Leafs had one in the third. John Tavares used his old man knowledge to enter the zone and get a step on Hedman. His shot trickled through Vasilevskiy, but was saved off the line by Sergachev. The puck ricocheted off of Tavares and into the net, but a quick review determined that it went in due to a distinct kicking motion (mostly caused by Cirelli dragging him to the ice, but whatever).

That play kicked off a final four minutes of back-and-forth hockey that raised some blood pressures but didn’t lead to a goal. On to overtime! The Lightning had more chances at 5v5 (11-6), but the Leafs led in dangerous ones (5-4).

Overtime

It didn’t take long. Toronto’s first foray into the Lightning zone led to a turnover by Alex Killorn. He skated out two-on-two with Cirelli. Cirelli fed Killorn and The Harvard Man’s shot beat Murray under the glove for the 4-3 overtime win.

Alex Killorn (Anthony Cirelli) 4-3 Lightning