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Recap: Toronto Maple Leafs cling to a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning

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Mo Rielly, Mo problems! Leafs start strong and hang on for the win.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Will the Toronto Maple Leafs make up for their woeful road trip? Will the Tampa Bay Lightning annoy us despite missing several key players? Will the Leafs hang onto their slim lead over the Florida Panthers? Will Road Trip Freddie stick around with his much better play of late? Will I keep asking questions to pad the intro?

Here we go!

PERIOD ONE HIGHLIGHTS

Welcome back, Morgan Rielly!

The chemistry between Willy and Auston remains a beautiful thing to behold.

Scary moment as Sergachev took a Matthews one-timer straight to the back of the head.

Leafs were all over the Lightning in the first half of the period, holding them without a shot attempt until their powerplay.

Sandin took a dumb penalty but the Leafs managed to out-shoot and out-chance the Lightning on the penalty kill.

BILLIAM WILLIAM NYLANDER MAKES IT 1-0!

Tampa started to push back in the final few minutes of the period, but Road Trip Freddie stood tall!

First Period Thoughts

  • Offense: Dominant in the first 15 minutes, up 19-3 in shot attempts at even strength and 1.02-0.01 in expected goals. Took 10 minutes for the Lightning to get their first shot attempt. As of 15 minutes, the worse Leaf player’s expected goals was 93%.
  • Defense: Not giving up any shot attempts over 10 minutes is good! Tampa started putting on some pressure in the last 5 minutes, which has me worried for the second...
  • Special Teams: STOP. DROP. PASSING. YOU. PILLOCKS. Second PP was much better, and penalty kill looked good.
  • Lines: The Hyman-Matthews-Nylander and the Engvall-Kerfoot-Malgin lines were superb, each with ridiculous control shares for shot attempts and expected goals. Holl and Dermott struggled a bit, and the Tavares line seemed to be the ones who struggled with the most of the Tampa push back late in the period.
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PERIOD TWO HIGHLIGHTS

Go Kappy go!

Good chance for the fourth line off a faceoff, man I missed how Rielly actually gets good point shots through.

Leafs are getting sloppy. Barrie got walked by Verharblwharbl, and some confusion at their bench led to a 2 on 0. Road Trip Freddie stopped them all!

Freddie made a number of good stops on a penalty kill, with the Lightning doing to the Leafs this period what the Leafs did to them in the first. Shots are 8-1 for Tampa after only 5 minutes.

Blake Coleman just did the Brian Gionta maneuver on Freddie!

This is the kind of defense that can make Matthews a truly great hockey player.

Kapanen’s had a few chances off the rush thanks to his speed.

Some Yakety Sax defense by Barrie and Sandin lead to the tying goal, 1-1

Thank you Freddie. He’s been saving the Leafs that period.

Second Period Thoughts

  • Offense: It looked worse than it was because of the Tampa powerplays that had lots of shots and chances, but at 5v5 it was more pretty even. Tampa had the better quality chances at even strength too, though. Once again, it started falling apart more in the final few minutes of the period. Shot attempts were 10-9 for the Leafs, but the Lightning doubled up in expected goals. Leafs still lead the game in xGF% with 63%.
  • Defense: Barrie got walked by Verhaeghe, Holl blew a few tires, and the Leafs almost gave up three 2 or 3 on 0’s. Pull it together, guys! I don’t want to pick on him but Barrie got danced, turnstiled, and left his jock at his own blueline multiple times. Again, because of the powerplays it looked worse than it was, the Leafs managed to not give up much in quality chances against at evens.
  • Special Teams: Freddie was the best penalty killer. The powerplay was pretty ass.
  • Lines: The same two forward lines are carrying the Leafs, but the third line didn’t get to do too much with so many penalties. The Sandin-Barrie pairing is getting absolutely dominated by the Lightning, I would honestly look at separating them if not stapling them both to the bench.
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PERIOD THREE HIGHLIGHTS

Brilliant Marner pass to Matthews on the powerplay, 2-1 Leafs

Freddie has had enough of being ridden like Goat, that’s the other Freddie’s job!

Travis Dermott with a glorious chance that rings off the crossbar.

Zach Hyman trying to seal the deal but gets stopped by Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Final Thoughts

  • Offense: The Leafs continued their steady decline in carrying the play, in the third the Lightning dominated both shot attempts and scoring chances at even strength.
  • Defense: They weren’t giving up terrible odd man rushes and quality scoring chances like the second period, so that was something of an improvement at least. Freddie was the best player of the game for the Leafs.
  • Special Teams: Leafs got both their goals on the powerplay and didn’t give up anything on the penalty kill. That’s about as good as you can ask for, even if it didn’t look pretty at times.
  • Lines: Keefe swapped Marner and Nylander to restore his usual C-RW combinations for the top two lines. The third and fourth lines by the end of the game had the best underlying numbers, with the top two slowly being chipped away by the Tampa pressure.
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