Tampa Bay Lightning Game 22: versus the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Tampa Bay Lightning received their first regulation loss at home on the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs beating them 4-3.

(So if you write a game recap, but no one reads it because it's a holiday, did the game really happen...?)

To be quite frank - or perhaps Niitty, as the case might be - the Lightning deserved this loss. This was a game that they could have won relatively easily. The Maple Leafs, while playing well enough to win, weren't playing as well as they did the last time these two teams met. The Lightning had flashes of brilliance, at times, but weren't really mentally into this game. And it showed on the scoreboard.

Antero Niittymaki did not have his best game. He looked a little slow, reaction-wise. But he's so solid positionally, that he wasn't caught out of his net too many times. However, he was letting up some big ol' rebounds for the Leafs to get. And the defense wasn't clearing them, either.

The defense was backing up into their own zone, again, so that gave the Leafs more chances than they should have had. A couple of times, they were caught out of position as well. Andrej Meszaros had a good night, but the rest were really hit and miss.

It's interesting to see how much of an impact Mattias Ohlund's absence has been on the blue line. Ohlund has only been with the Lightning for 22 games now, and he's been sorely missed. Not just for his abilities, but also for his leadership. Much of the defense looks a bit lost without him.

The best forwards of the game were easily Vincent Lecavalier, Jeff Halpern, and Ryan Malone. Malone had nine of the 17 total hits for the Lightning. Yes - nine. He also had a goal, as did Vinny. Lecavalier was 14-9 (61%) in the faceoff circle, though he did have three giveaways - one of while led to a Toronto goal.

Halpern was moved to right win for this game, on a line with Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay. While Tanguay had a quiet night, Halpern and Lecavalier really clicked. They had instant chemistry on the ice together, and it showed. It was impressive, actually.

In all honesty, I'd like to see Malone play on that line with Vinny and Jeff instead of Tanguay. Tanguay had some success with Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos, though. And that might just solve the chemistry problem with the top two lines. Although, I'm not sure how much Halpern would like being moved permanently to wing for the season.

Their next game is on Friday, 27 November at 7:30 pm ET. The New York Rangers are visiting Tampa. John Tortorella, Mike Sullivan, and Vinny Prospal come back for a visit. Ought to be a good game.