Lightning falters late against Leafs

by Gary Shelton on November 5, 2021

in general

Hedman struggled late in defeat./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 4 a.m.

It doesn't take long to fall off of a cliff. One minute, you're on top of the mountain and the next, you're heading for the rocks below.

Just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning, who lost so quickly Thursday night they were still trying to figure out what happened to them.

The Bolts were sailing along with a 1-0 lead when the world spun out of control. A series of misplays later, and they were trying to figure out a 2-1 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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With 41 seconds to go, the Leafs' John Tavares knocked down a sloppy clearing pass from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. He quickly went on the attack and scored the tying goal.

Only 53 seconds into overtime, and Tavares had a breakaway. He didn't score, but Hedman was called for slashing that set up a power play. Sixty seconds later, William Nylander scored the power play goal for the win.

“The frustrating part is that I didn’t feel like the Leafs beat us," said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. "I felt like we beat ourselves. That was painfully evident after the first period. The second period was just not the way we want to play the game. Stuff caught up it us. To turn the puck over. we did that period, and when they tied it. For two years, we haven’t done that and we’re making a habit of it in the start of this season. We felt like we gave a point away tonight."

The Bolts were ahead 1-0, and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong in goal. But it wasn't enough. 

"It’s a work in progress," Cooper said. "We do have a core group that knows how to push things over the finish line and we’re not doing that.  I can understand Opening Night, but we’re 10 games in now. We know better. When you leave plays out there, points out there, that’s the frustrating part. We know better. We need to be better."

The Lightning complete their two-game road trip in Canada on Saturday with an afternoon game against the Ottawa Senators. The puck is scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.

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