Frederik Andersen. Andrei Vasilevskiy. Toronto. Tampa Bay. Denmark. Russia. The ultimate goalie battle between the two front-runners in the 2018 Vezina Trophy conversation allow only three goals against two of the best teams in the league and go the distance, with Vasilevskiy and the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the game 4-3. Two goals to zero in the shootout.
The Leafs generally got filled in the shot column, the Lightning throwing 42 shots and 69 attempts at Freddy Andersen. The only positive shot share player on the Leafs roster in this game was Travis Dermott (50%) in 13:19 5v5 minutes. All other Leafs were minuses in shot share.
A slow start by the Leafs lead to the Lightning getting three of the first four shots of the game. William Nylander bobbles the puck behind the net and allows the Lightning to take control. Offensive super-massive blackhole Andrej Sustr grabs the puck at the point and throws the puck to the net. Chris Kunitz tips the shot from the ice up and over Frederik Andersen. Steven Stamkos gets the second assist on the goal.
The Leafs, who hopefully have woken up by now, start to get back in the shot column. Travis Dermott and Roman Polak are each able to get two attempts on Andrei Vasilevskiy’s net. Polak’s first attempt gets tipped by Patrick Marleau in the slot and starts careening towards the right side of the net. Somehow, Vasilevskiy stretches his left leg, doing a full splits, and is able to parry the puck away. Both goalies have been good so far, but Vasy might have the upper hand.
After giving up the opening goal, the Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, and Zach Hyman line have been much better. They have consistently been able to get into the offensive zone and cause havoc. Kapanen had an exceptionally good shift when he jumped in on the forecheck and bodied a defender’s stick to easily retrieve the puck. His shot got blocked as he rolled up to the slot but that didn’t stop him from keeping the play alive. As the Lightning started rushing up ice, Kapanen accelerated to catch up and steal the puck back.
Kapanen with a relentless forecheck, stripping two TBL players in the same shift. pic.twitter.com/OSZHIV6WSy— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 27, 2018
Morgan Rielly is standing at one end of the blue line, goes D-to-D to Ron Hainsey. Hainsey throws the puck on net and scores! The first tip came off the body of Cedric Paquette who was right in front of Hainsey, the second tip came by the hands of James van Riemsdyk who tracked the puck while fending off a defender behind him. Good thing we didn’t trade him, eh!
Call it a quick comeback as Marner tips yet another puck past Vasilevskiy! The Leafs second line once again does a great job against the Brayden Point, getting the puck back to the defensemen right off a faceoff win. Zaitsev puts the puck on net but misses on the short side. Gardiner jumps to the half-wall and throws the puck on, this time from the left side. The three forwards of Marleau, Nazem Kadri, and Mitchell Marner shift over from the faceoff and Marner is able to get a skate on it and through the legs of the 6’3” goaltender.
It appears Tomas Plekanec still has a little Hab left in him as he throws a wild elbow towards Point while the two are between the home and away benches. He goes to the box for roughing. The Lightning are normally known for their three-headed monster of Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos on the power play, but this time a crash to the net from Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn followed by a big point-shot by super-rookie Mikhail Sergachev give the Leafs the most trouble. Despite all the pressure, the Leafs kill the power play off.
This blue-and-white vs. white-and-blue match has been a back and forth affair. The Lightning controlled the shot share early and late, with the Leafs scoring twice and controlling the play inbetween. Sum all of this together, and it’s been a very even game. The Lightning lead the scoring chance share by one (8-9), the shots by two (8-10), but tie the Leafs in shot attempts (16-16), a solid 50%.
The Lightning step back onto the ice to start the second without their Russian superstar Kucherov. With the team already using 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, the Leafs have a massive upper hand when it comes to forward depth.
Kucherov has sustained an upper body injury and will not return team announces.— Raw Charge is for everyone (@RawCharge) February 27, 2018
Despite being without their best winger, the Lightning are able to get two great chances on Freddy Andersen. Yanni Gourde splits the defense of Nikita Zaitsev and Nylander as he jumps from the half-wall, forcing Freddy into making a clutch right-leg save. Former Leaf Anton Stralman would later pick up a giveaway from Jake Gardiner and force Freddy into making another right-leg save.
Tyler Johnson feeds Gourde for a slapper at the right-side faceoff dot. Freddy stops him but gives up a rebound to Johnson at the side of the net. The attempt is saved but Triplet #1 circles the back of the net and pots home his rebound. Johnson from Gourde, and the Leafs have all of a sudden allowed the Lightning to tie the game. Another slow start from the Leafs gives the Lightning an early period goal. The shots are also 18-9 not in favour of the good guys.
Tyler Bozak takes a hooking penalty on what was initially thought to be a good play, the referees tonight seem to be especially strict. Kapanen, who is probably as fast as any two of his teammates combined starts the penalty kill with good defensive coverage that led to a rush attempt at the end of his shift. Gourde tries to catch up to Kapanen and is forced to take a slashing penalty on him.
Dermott kicks off 4-on-4 by dipsy-doodling at the blueline and getting slashed by Stamkos. The two most recent Marlies call-ups turn a penalty kill by a 31-year-old vet into a 4-on-3 power play and subsequent 5-on-3 man-advantage. Marleau, Josh Leivo, Morgan Rielly, and JVR all get great chances on the two minutes of assorted man-advantages but can’t beat Vasilevskiy (and the post). Thanks to the kids, the Leafs now have a surge of momentum. YOUTH! [editors note: but Marleau, though]
Dermott draws his second penalty of the game a few minutes later, this time a hold by Killorn in the offensive zone. For a defenseman who took a lot of penalties with the AHL Toronto Marlies, it’s been a very heartening surprise to see that Dermott’s drawn penalty numbers are just as high, if not higher than his penalty taken numbers, a stat that isn’t tracked publically in the AHL.
After a dump in, Polak goes back for the puck and sends a grenade to a covered Nylander. Adam Erne picks up the free puck and throws a muffin at Freddy’s goal...and it goes in. A bad play by Polak starting the play and a bad goal given up by Freddy Andersen ending it. We’ll give Andersen a mulligan for that one. Has he even had a bad goal against in February? We’ll consider it this one.
The Kadri line tries to get one back on the next shift, Kadri parks his rear-end in the face of Vasilevskiy and tips a shot by Rielly through Vasilevskiy. The puck squeaks through the leg and blocker of the Lightning goaltender and rolls towards the net. As it rolls, physics decides it hates the Leafs, and the rubber disk rolls across the goal-line and back out the other end like a penny rolling around in a concave cone. Unlucky for the Leafs, who could’ve tied the game and erase a bad goal all in one fell swoop.
Puck decides it does not want to go in. pic.twitter.com/WXBmqiLZWk— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 27, 2018
The Lightning not only pull ahead in goals, but also in all of the shot share statistics. The Leafs are on pace for allowing almost 40 shots against the league’s best offense while only being on pace to shoot 27. For the second period specifically, the Leafs were out-shot (10-16), out-attempted (19-28), and out-chanced (10-14).
The Leafs have been forced away from the middle of the ice by the Lightning in all zones, and despite having the majority of the possession, can’t do anything with it. The opposing wings overload one side of the ice and force a puck battle in the corner, keeping the puck away from the weak side and forcing the puck slowly up the ice. It’s been effective at not only keeping the Leafs from getting their cycle going, but also breaking the puck out of their own zone.
Hyman blows through the opposing blueline and makes a buttonhook so that he can find one of his speedy linemates ahead of him. He has Kapanen wide open in front of the net but is hooked by Braydon Coburn. On the power play, Bozak gets a good chance at the side of the net from a play created by Marner but is unable to score. One of the penalty killers, Callahan, breaks his stick on the play, giving the Leafs a one and a half man-advantage. Marner uses the seam created by a stick-less Callahan and feeds Bozak for a one-timer that Vasilevskiy can’t stop. Marner and Rielly get the assists. Tie game!
Morgan Rielly's second assist of the night is his 37th point of the season - a new single-season career-high (previous: 36 in 2015-16). #TMLtalk— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 27, 2018
Then something insane happened. Paquette and Callahan both were battling in the Leafs’ zone and Paquette felt like he got high-sticked and elbowed by Leo Komarov. As Paquette skates to the bench with his hands holding his face, he tossed one of his gloves at referee Gord Dwyer (our sources have yet to determine which glove it is, we are working hard to uncover this critical detail). Dwyer picks up the glove as the play goes the other way and skates around with it. As Dwyer goes back around and skates by the Lightning bench, he and Paquette exchange words. Those words result in Dwyer aggressively throwing Paquette’s glove back at him. Callahan and the rest of the Lightning bench go nuts.
Paquette thought that Leo should have been penalized, doesn't like it and throws his glove at the referee. The referee then picks it up and throws the glove back at Paquette on the bench. pic.twitter.com/Ij2bGGrXtQ— Flintor (@TheFlintor) February 27, 2018
The ref just threw Cedric Paquette's glove at him on the bench.. Tampa players instantly go irate. pic.twitter.com/QNq9Tf6FZV— Shayne Pasquino (@shaynepasquino) February 27, 2018
Kadri from his own goal line releases Mitch for a breakaway. Victor Hedman hooks the Leaf winger from behind just as he was about to shoot the puck. PENALTY SHOT! Marner goes left to right and tries to beat Vasilevskiy with the forehand, but the young goalie stops him. Moving on.
Freddy Andersen picks up the puck behind the net, but doesn’t see any defenseman around to give the puck to. and as a result he has to ring the puck around the boards. Ryan Callahan steals the puck and forces new guy Plekanec into taking a tripping penalty on him. A necessary penalty to take, but a -2 in penalty differential is not a nice debut for our new 4C.
On the same play, Tyler Johnson gets hit awkwardly by Hainsey and a referee and is forced to leave the ice with a lame right foot. If you’re a Lightning fan, of course it’s another forward, and of course the ref did it.
Lightning now down to nine forwards...— Raw Charge is for everyone (@RawCharge) February 27, 2018
After 60 minutes of great hockey, bad hockey, and mad hockey, two of the most dynamic teams in the league — even without Auston Matthews and Nikita Kucherov — face off for overtime.
Rielly, Kadri, and Kapanen start the period in their own zone but eventually get the puck back. Kadri and Kapanen are on a partial two-on-one and Kadri’s feed for Kapanen nearly connects, although Kapanen’s body does connect with Vasilevskiy and his stick, knocking both away from the net. Kapanen grabs the rebound and throws the puck to Rielly who’s attempt hits the post!
Stamkos and Hedman get a two-on-one going back the other way but Freddy stops them.
Marleau gets a breakaway going back the OTHER way. Marleau dekes and tries to go five-hole but shoots it a little too high.
The Lightning pick up the puck and force the Leafs group of Zaitsev, JVR, and Nylander within their own zone, chasing. Eventually JVR steals the puck and lumbers up the ice on his own so that his teammates can change.
We get a whistle.
Marleau and Bozak get away on a clean odd man rush, but Hedman lays his entire 6’7” body on the ice and cuts off the shot. Back the OTHER OTHER way...
...Stamkos gets a breakaway but after 25:55 of ice time on a 10-man forward bench the Lightning captain runs out of steam and collapses on the ice after losing the puck.
We head to a shootout
Ryan Callahan..... gets embarrassed by Andersen who stays right with him the whole way. Easily no goal.
Willy Nylander..... HITS THE POST!
Brayden Point..... Roofs it on Andersen. 1-0
Tyler Bozak..... Stopped on the five-hole (oh no.)
Yanni Gourde..... fires it wide on the backhand!
van Riemsdyk..... Runs out of room on the deke and gets stopped.
Toronto Maple Leafs lose the skills competition.
The Leafs are now 1-1-1 against their main adversaries in the Atlantic division since the call-up of Kasperi Kapanen and have notched 9 of a possible 10 points in this latest five-game stretch. Hottest in the league.
So this was fun. Want to do 4-7 games of this in May, Raw Charge?
[editor’s note: applauds]