Toronto Maple Leafs score first but lose 4-1 to Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 48 saves in his return from a broken left foot as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday night in a matchup of the NHL’s top two teams.
Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson both scored for Tampa Bay during the final 36 seconds of the second period to make it 4-1. Vasilevskiy, who missed the previous 14 games, stopped all 23 shots he faced in the period.
Anthony Cirelli and Nikita Kucherov also had goals for the Lightning (25-7-1). They have now won eight in a row and lead Toronto by eight points in the Atlantic Division. The franchise record is a nine-game winning streak in 2016.
Tampa Bay scored three times on 12 shots in the second. Killorn put home a backhand with 35.8 seconds left. Johnson converted from the slot with 1.7 seconds to go.
Toronto got a goal from Kasperi Kapanen. Additionally, Frederik Andersen stopped 17 shots. The Maple Leafs have lost three of four (1-2-1) after a five-game winning streak.
Vasilevskiy got his glove on Patrick Marleau’s point-blank chance. He then trapped the loose puck with his pad early in the third.
The Maple Leafs hit the crossbar or post three times in the first. Vasilevskiy also made a left pad save on John Tavares’ in-close backhand late in the period.
Nazem Kadri had a nifty deflection stopped by Vasilevskiy and also hit the post during a power play midway through the second.
Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead on Kucherov’s power-play goal at 5:31 of the second that required a video review. A no-goal call on the ice was overturned when officials determined Andersen’s glove save came behind the goal line.
Kucherov also had an assist and has six goals and 29 points over the last 15 games.
Kapanen put the Maple Leafs up 1-0. After stealing an errant pass into the slot by Kucherov 5:26 into the game.
Cirelli tied it on his third short-handed goal at 8:20 of the first.
This was the first time this season that the Maple Leafs have lost in regulation time after scoring first.
Speaking after the match, Mike Babcock said: “We had lots of opportunities here tonight, no question. Their goaltending was really good, we had a good opportunity on the power play and didn’t finish. Then we made the mistake and got beat to our net there on their third goal and we turned it over on their fourth, so that got us out of the game. That was disappointing because we thought we did lots of good things.”
Overall he was pleased with the performance, he said: “Their goalie played good. I don’t know if you guys saw the same thing, but we thought their goalie played really well tonight. We had good chances. I haven’t gone over everything on the tape. The pass came across a few times and we bobbled it instead of it going in the net, but I liked our effort tonight, to be honest with you.”
Maple Leafs face off against the Florida Panthers on Saturday evening.