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Maple Leafs lose a battle of special teams to the recharged Lightning

Penalties, bad power plays, one terrible period, and the series is tied.

Tampa Bay Lightnig v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Two Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

This is how it works: You score five goals on a team and there’s a really good chance they’ll score on you first the next chance they get.

First Period

The fans start with a baritone Go Leafs go.

They segue to a Soooooup call as Jack Campbell touches the puck.

Finally, the Matthews line comes out and it’s Em Vee Pee, Em Vee Pee.

I’m just sitting here saying Booooosh:

Wayne Simmonds lands a hard hit, and then instantly moves into offence-mode, and he’s looking good, like he’s doing all he can to bring back the remnants of who he used to be.

The Lightning take a too many men penalty, which ruptured the spacetime continuum.

The first unit lays on the rapid-fire shots, but the second unit looks rough.

Kerfoot with a block that huurts turns into a rush from “Sick Hands” Kämpf, but McDonagh dumps him into Vasilevskiy.

Auston Matthews goes down and the crowd wants gravity to sit in the box for 2 minutes.

Pat Maroon dumps Timothy Liljegren into Campbell, and Maroon takes a penalty.

Perry tries to get Nylander to do anything but laugh at him, and reader, he fails.

Oh, yuck, a puck shot high goes off of Anthony Cirelli’s face. We don’t do concussion protocol in the playoffs, of course.

The power play started fast and turned into the sort of chaotic mess the second unit produces.

Mark Giordano takes a penalty which he doesn’t seem to think he deserved. It’s a hold, Hagel fell easily, it is what it is.

Lightning get time in zone, but don’t do much with it. Not the usual Leafs PK, though, a lot of dump-outs, which is fine, does the job.

The Leafs come back hard. So many shots, so much time spent keeping the cycle going.

Kerfoot immediately takes a holding penalty as the play runs the other way, and holding is the thing these refs will call, guys. Learn the lesson fast.

Campbell gets a good save on Brayden Point, but Victor Hedman gets a gift of a bouncing puck and we end this period 1-0 Lightning.

Thoughts

  • The Lightning have adjusted their power play zone entry, and the Leafs can’t get easy kills now
  • Good period from the Leafs with domination on the power play at the limited five-on-five time

Second Period

Oh wow. The Leafs come out hard, and Vasilevskiy robs Liljegren.

And that one hurts. Corey Perry gets a breakaway pass from Hedman and makes no mistake.

Sigh

2-0 Lightning

It’s tough when you’re the better team and you’re losing like this. These are the times that try men’s souls, etc. etc.

Good stop on Point from Campbell, and maybe this can settle everyone down.

Good stop on Cernak from Campbell, and you know, Leafs, you need to remember who you are. The wheels aren’t off, but this is not the response that is going to win you this game.

Mitch Marner! He sees this puck going in the net before he ever gets his stick on it to pass it. Bunting the trigger man, but this is a top line goal. All three guys necessary.

2-1 Lightning

Go Leafs Go. Go Leafs Go (I’m just yelling along with the crowd.)

Campbell with a desperation save to keep this close. Simmonds goes off on the play after the whistle. Which is dumb, to be honest.

Nikita Kucherov restores the lead on a good power play from the Lightning and mistaken pass to a stick-less T.J. Brodie.

3-1 Lightning

Yet another post-whistle scrum, and another Leafs player is taking a very stupid penalty. This one is so weak, I have to believe the ref saw much more meaningful contact in real time than was revealed in slo-mo.

The Leafs lay down their best PK of the game so far, but the problem is there’s enough instances to make a ranked list, not how good they are in this one.

Marner goes down and everyone wants a penalty on that too.

Lyubushkin nails Killorn as the whistle goes, and if there were any Lightning fans here, they’d want a penalty on that.

Marner gets hauled down again (back-to-back shifts) and this time the crowd and the Leafs get the call they want.

The power play is not an oil painting. A pass hops Nylander’s stick, then McDonagh gets a shorty rush, and it isn’t long before the Lightning are rushing back at Campbell again. And again, and again.

Stop yelling for penalty call, fans. That was terrible.

The period mercifully ends, and we never need to think about it again.

Thoughts

  • That was a crappy period

Third Period

Time to regroup here, and finish this game the way you started it, Leafs.

Okay, never mind. This one’s toast. The Leafs look a bit better, faster, but some bad play in the offensive zone by Giordano and Matthews is bracketed by some weak play by Liljegren defensively.

4-1 Lightning

Insult to injury, and William Nylander takes an offensive zone penalty. I think that might be unwise.

Simmonds with another penalty, the Lightning with another goal:

5-1 Lightning

There’s 13 minutes left, but the only point to this is getting out of it unhurt.

Keefe is playing lineblender bingo, to keep his mind occupied in this one. He’s got a Kerfoot-centred line out with Nylander.

Mitch Marner is paying attention, though:

5-2 Lightning

Bunting takes a stupid penalty behind the play in case you thought momentum was a thing here.

Okay, let me rephrase that. Bunting wisely realizes they were due a shorty. Brodie is hilarious here realizing he should not shoot this.

5-3 Lightning

I’m willing to rewrite the headline, Leafs — carry on scoring.

The crowd is riled, the Leafs are flying, and the Lightning take a stupid penalty of their own.

The Leafs go six-on-four with the net empty.

No joy on the power play, although it was exciting, and no joy on the final 30 seconds either.

Thoughts

Were the Leafs just bad? No, not at all, but they let themselves get bogged down, gave up speed for a lot of physical play. That worked in concert with their speed in game one, here not so much.

Some of it was just chance, that Hedman goal. Some of it was a very much improved power play from Tampa.

This amount of special teams time does not favour the Leafs who are better than the Lightning by quite a serious margin at five-on-five.

The Leafs finished as they started, which is very encouraging.

Oh, and if anyone suggests the Leafs should put Erik Källgren in the next game, I’m going to come to your house and bonk you on the head with a pool noodle and then make you listen to at least 10 minutes on why save % is stupid.

See you Friday, everyone.