Photo Credit: Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Postgame: Goliath Vs a Slightly Smaller Goliath

This was the heavyweight title if there ever were a title match in the middle of the regular season. Tampa Bay Lightning. Toronto Maple Leafs. Two of the most potent offenses in the game. Two of the best goaltenders in the game. It was Monday Night Raw but better. It was Monday Night Football, but still better. It was prime-time competition on a not-so-prime-time night.

The Leafs were missing Kasperi Kapanen with an illness, so Trevor Moore gets back in the lineup instead of taking his turn in the press box.

1st period

The Lightning were able to draw blood first in the first round of the fight, with an unfortunately well-placed foot by Tyler Johnson that re-directs the puck past Frederik Andersen:

An unfortunate missed connection between Matthews and Muzzin leaves the Leafs trailing. The Leafs were looking fast, and good on the forecheck, but this unlucky bounce took the air out of their lungs a little bit.

Just before the end of the first, another re-direct beat Andersen, by Anthony Cirelli this time, which put the Lightning up 2-0:

The period ended that way with the Lightning up 2-0, and leading in shots-on-goal 14-9.

2nd period

Things didn’t get any better for Toronto in the second frame of the night. Another fortunate move for Tampa Bay as a puck ended up on Tyler Johnson’s stick in front, after catching Andersen in the mask. Point was able to kick it to Johnson, and he made no mistake:

The luck continues for the best team in the league, as this one took a bounce off of Auston Matthews off of a faceoff loss and goes past Andersen:

That’d be the end of the night for Frederik Andersen, after 4 goals go past him that clearly were not his fault. As stated by Greg Millen, it wasn’t an indication of his performance, but it lacks any sense to keep your starter in a game that’s going this poorly.

A bright spot finally emerged in the game, early in the second half of the second period, the second half of the game, Auston Matthews was able to walk through the Lightning and get the puck past the veritable Vasilevsky.

Unfortunately, they Lightning were able to restore their 4 goal lead on a terrible joint effort (that may have started with a missed call against Tampa), which led to a shorthanded goal against the Leafs:

3rd period

Here’s another goal by Tampa Bay to make it 6-1. My goodness.

Finally, with just 4 seconds left in the game, there was this late effort by Connor Brown:

A late goal for the Leafs was something, but couldn’t help make this one more palatable, and the final score ended at 6-2 for Tampa Bay. Yuck.

Who wore the Crown?

After every Leaf game, we’re recognizing one Leaf player who best exemplified what it means to play hockey the “Toronto Way”: with heart and soul, above all else. Who wore the Crown is brought to you by Crown Royal, passionate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Auston Matthews is the unfortunate soul who has to come out of this as the best player of the night, despite every single member of the team stinking in one fashion or the other. His incredible goal was the one highlight of the night.

Final Thoughts

Well this one definitely stunk. It was a lot of bad luck but also a lot of not being as good as Tampa Bay. Ultimately the Leafs have to be better, and surely Mike Babcock will be wracking his brain to determine how that can be done.

Personally, I think it starts with getting their 2nd and maybe 3rd best defensemen back in Jake Gardiner and Travis Dermott. As soon as Toronto can do that, I think the team will be much stronger and capable of handling the depth of a team like Tampa Bay.

Really unfortunate game for Toronto tonight, and I’m sure we’ll all be hoping for better when the Leafs face Chicago on Wednesday.