Leafs edge divi­sion-lead­ing Light­ning

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - LANCE HORNBY LHornby@post­media.com

The Tampa Bay Light­ning have a lot to think about if a play­off se­ries with the Toronto Maple Leafs comes to pass in April or May.

Namely, how to han­dle some of their own medicine: youth, speed and scor­ing. Tampa, the top team in the NHL, en­coun­tered plenty of all three Mon­day night at the Air Canada Cen­tre.

Aus­ton Matthews (three as­sists), Wil­liam Ny­lan­der (two goals, one as­sist) and Mitch Marner (an as­sist af­ter a five-point game against Ot­tawa) were the van­guard of a 4-3 win. Yet Toronto knew its 3-0 lead, achieved on just 17 shots on goal against An­drei Vasilevskiy, was no guar­an­tee of a romp.

In less than six min­utes, the Bolts tied it.

The Light­ning per­se­vered and pro­duced a late sec­ond-pe­riod re­bound goal by Alex Kil­lorn, with an as­sist from Nikita Kucherov, point No. 70 for the NHL’s lead­ing scorer.

Two goals in the open­ing 1:18 of the third, by Kucherov and Yanni Gourde, stunned the home side, mak­ing it 3-3.

But James van Riems­dyk found a mouse hole by Vasilevskiy ’s post to re­store the lead and pre­serve the win.

With two games in hand, the Light­ning’s lead on Toronto is down to six points with Bos­ton be­tween the two.

A mid-pe­riod shift gave 19,112 cus­tomers their money’s worth early in the match, first with re­cent Mar­lie call-ups Travis Der­mott and Kasperi Ka­pa­nen al­most com­bin­ing on a point shot and de­flec­tion. On the next draw, Matthews beat Steve Stamkos, get­ting it back to Jake Gar­diner and then re-di­rect­ing to Ny­lan­der for a rocket in a small pocket over Vasilevskiy’s near-side shoul­der.

Fred­erik An­der­sen, look­ing for his 28th win and 15th at home, had to stop Tyler John­son on a first-pe­riod short-handed break­away.

Early in the sec­ond pe­riod, with Marner fill­ing in for Zach Hy­man at left wing on the Matthews line, Ny­lan­der scored off a rush.

Marner whacked at a puck to stop the Bolts at the Leaf line, Matthews re­layed to Ny­lan­der and he put his sec­ond through Vasilevskiy’s blocker side.

Ny­lan­der then dropped a pass to Gar­diner, who went low to add his fourth goal of the sea­son to go with 15 as­sists in his past 15 games.

The Leafs sur­vived a har­row­ing clos­ing minute with the Tampa net empty.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.