Game 51: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Tampa Bay Lightning shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 this evening, extending their winning streak to five.
It was a good fight by the Leafs, who started the game with energy, and put up a fight.
The difference maker was goaltender Dwayne Roloson, who kept the Bolts in the lead in the second and third period when the offense met some complacency. Roloson stopped 26 shots for the shut out.
There is also something to be said for Leaf's goaltender James Reimer, who saved 24 of 26 shots. Reimer, just 22, was a surprising talent, having now played eight games is in his first NHL season.
The Bolts played things tight and got the win, with goals from Simon Gagne and Teddy Purcell. The scoring showed continued consistency in team depth.
Full recap and video after the jump.
The Leafs put up a good fight at the beginning of the game, starting with energetic, physical play from the first minute.
But the Lightning gained the edge, opening the scoring early against the leafs at 5:11; Purcell brought the puck up the center passing to Victor Hedman at right. Hedman turned the puck around, sending it across the goal to Gagne, who chipped it in for the Lightning goal opener.
For Gagne, that's six goals in eight games, an exciting improvement for the Lightning line.
On the Lightning power play, Purcell found the net, on a good 1-3-1 set up. Victor Hedman took the shot from the center, and Purcell surged to the right to notch in a second goal against the Leafs.
In December, when Purcell was leading third in points, Guy Boucher commended Purcell for his creativity, but noted that if Purcell would use his creativity to take shots, not take passes, he would find more shots. With tonight's goal and assist, it seems we are seeing the result of a good adjustment, a conscious effort to shoot, not just pass.
"When you're playing with such good players, such as Lecavalier and Gagne, your first instinct is to pass," Purcell said afterwards. "It's a habit. You do it your whole life, it's hard to break."
Besides building improving his offense, Boucher commended Purcell's vision and skill, but called him outstanding with the addition of speed.
"I think it's the grit part of the game that has evolved as it should be."
In a productive first period, the Bolts dominated, leading shots 17-4.
In the second and third, the Leafs came back with a dose of stamina that the Bolts didn't fully match. The Leafs turned the shots around in the second, reciprocating 13 compared to the Bolt's 4, and evening 9 to the Bolt's 10 in the third.
But the Leaf's reentrance, for all of its energy, put Roloson on exhibit, as he saved shot after shot to seal the win for the Lightning.
"For me it's another game. I just try to play to the best of my ability, and give my guys an opportunity to win."
- Victor Hedman was fantastic on defense. Battle after battle, Hedman was a major contributor to the effort, with three hits and one blocked shot. In the second he battled Phil Kessel on the 4-on-4 at the end of the period.
- Mattias Ohlund was also a major defensive force, with three hits and five blocked shots. In the third he blocked a shot at the knee and was taken off the ice at the end of the third, but was "okay" based on the first x-ray.
- Steven Stamkos was on the Leaf's radar tonight, and ended the game with only two shots on goal.
- Despite the win, the Lightning failed to take advantage of four of five power plays.
- Boucher not only made special mention of Dwayne Roloson, by noted that Dan Ellis is also more poised with the assurance in net. Boucher said he is "very happy with what's going on with the goaltenders."
Up next, we're headed for the All-Star break. Cassie will be in attendance, so check in here to get Cassie's take on the weekend's events. Following the break, the Lightning will play the next ten games at home, which, according to Boucher, "ain't gonna be no picnic." The next game is February 1, at home against the Philadelphia Flyers.
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Maple Leafs vs Lightning boxscore [TSN]
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