Third period comeback led by Knies and Domi lift Maple Leafs to 4-3 overtime win over the Lightning
Photo credit:Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
Although it was a better all-around effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night in Florida, they came away with zero points as they would drop their second consecutive game after winning the first two of the season.
With a loss to start this five-game road trip and back-to-back losses after starting 2-0-0, the Maple Leafs were headed to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning for the first time since Toronto eliminated them in game 6 back in April.
As mentioned above, it was the first meeting between these two teams since game 6 in Tampa Bay last spring when Toronto advanced to the second round, and we were treated to some action right off the bat.
Within the first two minutes of the game, Anthony Cirelli threw a shot at Samsonov that got deflected into the corner, Auston Matthews burst past Hedman for a scoring chance but rang the post, and rookie Matthew Knies laid a massive hit along the sideboards to set the early tone.
However, after the early action, the Maple Leafs opened the scoring, which is the first time they’ve done that this season. It was a sweet passing play between Nylander and Tavares that ended up with Nylander potting home his fourth of the season.
It was too bad that the lead didn’t last long because Matthew Knies would then take a penalty to put the Lightning on the man advantage, and Nikita Kucherov wasted no time as he tied the game at one.
Toronto was treated with a power play of their own after an interference penalty but didn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and minutes later, Tampa Bay would take the one-goal lead with their second goal on their third shot.
However, it didn’t stop there for the Lightning as Jake McCabe took Toronto’s second penalty of the frame to hand the Lightning another power play. From the same spot, the same person – Nikita Kucherov – buried his second of the period to give his team the 3-1 lead.
Just like the first period, it was a sloppy start to the second period for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They came out defending in their zone right away and took two more penalties to give Tampa Bay more opportunities to crack this game wide open. Luckily, the penalty kill and Joseph Woll – who came in relief for Samsonov after his third goal against – killed off both penalties to keep the game 3-1.
After the Maple Leafs killed off both penalties to begin the second period, they continued to generate chances on Jonas Johnasson – who they scored eight goals on in December 2021 – but weren’t lucky enough to get one over the line and were stuck at just one goal from the first period.
They allowed Tampa Bay to generate some of their chances as well but did a better job at where the chances came from, and also the fact that Joseph Woll looked much calmer in the crease than Samsonov did when he allowed three goals on four shots.
At this point, Toronto was outshooting Tampa Bay 28-20 and outchancing them 18-14 at five-on-five, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. However, they saw themselves down 3-1 where it mattered most.
Down by two goals and looking to get back in the win column, the Maple Leafs needed to come out for the third period and play with the hunger to come back in this game and pick up the two points. Similar to their two comeback wins in Tampa Bay in both games three and four back in April, they needed to do it for a third time if they wanted to come out on top.
Well, after generating a lot of chances through the first 40 minutes but not being able to find the back of the net other than Nylander’s goal in the first period, Toronto was finally rewarded with some goals.
Keefe went to the blender, which led to different line combinations in the third period. One line that seemed to break through with some goals for Toronto was a line with Matthew Knies and Max Domi on it.
Domi, who hasn’t looked all that great to begin his Leafs tenure, had a pretty good third period. Before the shift that cut the Leafs’ deficit in half, Domi had the puck in the neutral zone but stopped skating and floated the puck into the Lightning zone. However, in the clip below, he continued skating into the offensive zone and pulled off a nifty cross-ice backhand pass to Matthew Knies, who sniped his first NHL regular season goal.
Just over two minutes after cutting the lead in half, Knies and Domi hopped over the boards and went to work again. On opposite sides of the ice this time, Domi was skating on the left wing side of the ice in the Lightning zone and found a streaking Knies on his one-time side. He couldn’t handle the pass at first, but once he did, he buried his second of his career – and period – on one knee to tie the game up at three.
After storming back in the third period down 3-1 to tie it up 3-3 with just over five minutes to go, Toronto was looking to end the game in regulation instead of taking this to overtime, but Nick Paul on the backcheck made an unbelievable play to break up the pass to Marner with over a minute to go.
This game was now headed to overtime.
It was a bold move from Sheldon Keefe to start the overtime period with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but luckily, it worked to some degree. They held possession the entire time and almost scored on some chances to begin overtime.
But the duo of John Tavares and William Nylander were the ones who completed the comeback as they left Tampa Bay with both points.
Who stood out:
Multiple players stood out to me from last night’s game, but I won’t spend too much time talking about every single one of them.
Joseph Woll, who came in for Samsonov in the first period, played fantastic. Someone who wasn’t expecting to come in relief with roughly seven minutes to go in the first period on the road against the Lightning did his job and more last night and according to Keefe, he will get the start against the Capitals.
Knies and Domi had a brilliant third period that sparked the comeback, and I know it’s easy to say they stood out because of those two goals, but even when Knies was in the top six with Tavares and Nylander earlier in the game, I thought he looked good and fit in nicely.
Nylander and Tavares continue to do what they’ve been doing all season thus far. They combined on the game-winning goal in overtime and both of them now have nine points to their name in the first five games of the season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on TSN4 Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm ET/3:00 pm PT.
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