Leafs hand the Lightning another defeat

by Gary Shelton on January 18, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Stamkos can't get the puck past Andersen./STEVEN MUNCIE

Friday, 4 a.m.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a good goaltender, too. They have offensive power, too. They are good defensively, too.

Also, they have a little bit of desperation.

The Maple Leafs, on the verge of falling out of the Atlantic Division race to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team it trailed by 16 points going into Thursday night's game, pulled off a 4-2 victory over the Lightning Thursday night. The Bolts had won nine straight games at home.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy stretches for a save./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Lightning has now lost two of its last three games.

"We've got to generate a little more 5-on-5," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "That would have helped, but we had some good looks. It was tough to come out of the second period down a goal. I thought we had a strong period, and they came out with the lead. We pushed in the third for

Point celebrates with Stamkos after scoring./STEVEN MUNCIE

a bit, but then we wound up chasing it for about a five-minute period, gave them a little life, then got it back the last five minutes, had our chances 6-on-5, couldn't bury it.

"They had their chances, we had ours. They just got one more than us."

The Lightning got goals from Brayden Point, his 30th of the season, and Victor Hedman.

"Aside from a little spurt in the third period, I don't think we gave them a heck of a lot the whole game," Cooper said. "We did a lot of good things, broke down a few times and they ended up in the net."

Victor Hedman scored for the Bolts./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Lightning fell to 35-10-2 on the season.

"It's not always about the result," Hedman said. "It's about the performance of the group and I think today was as good as we've been playing the last five or six games. Like I said, we were happy with the tenacity in our game and the way we played. A couple breakdowns cost us, so we'll learn from that and change that for our last game before the break.

"There's been a lot of those games and we haven't been on this side of it in a lot of them, so it's disappointing but at the same time we knew we were playing a good team. We just got to make sure we learn from this and finish on a high note against San Jose."

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 of 27 shots. He fell to 19-6-2 on the season.

Alex Killorn moves the puck for the Lightning./STEVEN MUNCIE

"I think we got a taste of our medicine from last game where they probably deserved a better fate," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We probably deserved a better fate. Our goaltender made some really good saves. That's the way it's going to go. They got some chances. They capitalized on them, and it was a good back and forth game."

The Lightning trailed 3-2 in the dying seconds, and it's players protested that a puck had hit illegally before being put in for a clinching empty-netter.

"To be honest, I don't know what it hit," Stamkos said. "We thought it kind of went out of play and hit the glass. We all stopped playing and it took a funny bounce. It's a tough play. It's a bang-bang play for the officials. I heard someone say it hit the mic that was on the ice. I'm not sure why there's a mic in play to be honest. There was one on the glass, so I don't know why the heck that's there."

The Bolts are home Saturday at Amalie Arena against San Jose. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m.




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