Fourth defeat in five for the Maple Leafs
Alex Killorn scored the winner for the Tampa Bay Lightning after Steven Stamkos had previously scored. The result means that the Toronto Maple Leafs lost 3-1.
Andrei Vasilevskiy saved 29 shots for the Lightning. Because of the result, Tampa Bay has become only the second team in NHL history to win more than 60 games in a regular season. The leading scorer in the division, Nikita Kucherov also scored his 40th of the season.
Mitch Marner had replied for the Leafs. While Frederik Andersen made 26 stops. The signs don’t look positive for fans’ ahead of the impending playoffs. But before then Toronto ends the regular season against Montreal on Saturday.
Auston Matthews enjoyed his time on the ice. He said: “It was a pretty good hockey game overall. I thought we did a lot of good things.”
The game was tied 1-1 during the third period before Stamkos passed back to Killorn fired passed Andersen for his 18th goal of the regular season; with just under six minutes remaining.
Andersen was benched as the Leafs pushed for the tie. However, Vasilevskiy stopped Patrick Marleau on Toronto’s best opportunity. Kucherov then sealed the win for Tampa Bay.
The Lightning can no longer break the league record of 62 wins which was set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1995-96. However, they can overtake the second-best record which is held by Montreal Canadiens. Montreal won on 60 occasions on an 80-game schedule.
Andersen thought the Maple Leafs were unfortunate. He said: “Both teams played well, but didn’t give up too much. They got the one extra goal, but overall a pretty good effort by us.”
There wasn’t much on the line for either team, with both sides already assured of their respective playoff spots. The Maple Leafs had already sewn up the number three seed in the Atlantic Division, while Tampa clinched the Presidents’ Trophy on March 18th.
Toronto opens the playoff series against Boston at the TD Gardens next week. However, the omens aren’t good as the Leafs lost game seven of the first round series to the Bruins in the same arena last season.
The commitment of the players in front of the 19,400 fans’ at the Scotiabank wasn’t as strenuous as you would come to expect in the playoffs next week. Stamkos revealed: “You can tell the difference when two teams have clinched. We just wanted to play solid hockey. I thought we did, especially in the third.”
Kasperi Kapanen almost ended his draught of no goals in his previous 14 games, as he struck an excellent spinning backhand. However, it was smartly kept out by Vasilevskiy.
It was a welcome return to the lineup for Jake Gardiner for the Leafs; he had previously missed the last 18 games through a back injury. However, there was no Nazem Kadri and Jake Muzzin for Toronto who missed out through maintenance and illness respectively. William Nylander centered the Leafs third line in the absence of Kadri.
Andersen will be looking to recover his form ahead of the playoffs following some below-par performances. He made a marvelous save from Mikhail Sergachev which is sure to build some confidence. He quickly snapped his glove to grab a fast shot off the feed from Kucherov.