Lecavalier scoring a pair of highlight-reel goals in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 3-2 victory over Toronto on Tuesday night.
"We had plenty of opportunities, a guy like that buries them," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of Lecavalier. "He's one of the top players in the league, you give him a couple of opportunities he's probably going to score one, you give him three opportunities, he might score two.
"Some of our guys need five opportunities to score one."
The Maple Leafs recorded 39 shots at Mike Smith but scored only twice. Toronto, which had a two-game winning streak snapped, wasted a two-man advantage that lasted 1:11 of the first period and failed to generate enough traffic in front of Smith.
"This is a game we easily should have had," said forward Matt Stajan, who scored his first of the season. "We know we've got to be better, we can't take bits and pieces of nights off, especially on home ice against a team that's been struggling like them."
Jussi Jokinen also scored and No. 1 overall draft pick Steven Stamkos earned his first NHL point for the Lightning (2-3-3).
Lecavalier, who had four of his team's 25 shots, put the Lightning up 2-1 at 15:37 of the first period. Skating through the neutral zone, he dragged his leg at the Leafs blue line to allow Vaclav Prospal's breakaway pass to slide past him into the zone onside. Lecavalier cut in on goalie Vesa Toskala and tucked in an against-stride, one-handed backhander.
"It was a perfect pass behind me, which is perfect because it bounced right in front of me," Lecavalier said. "I just went to the net and I wasn't sure if his pad was going to get the puck, but it went."
Lecavalier stretched Tampa Bay's lead to 3-1 at 4:08 of the second when he took a pass from Prospal in the slot and made a move before beating Toskala high during a power play. Stamkos, who was a Leafs fan growing up in Ontario, earned the second assist.
"He's an immense talent, he's one of the top-10 most talented players in the world," Lightning coach Barry Melrose said of Lecavalier. "People saw that."
Mike Van Ryn also scored for the Maple Leafs, pulling them within a goal on a power play at 13:15 of the second by flipping a shot over a prone Smith.
Smith made a terrific stop on Alexei Ponikarovsky with five minutes to go and another on John Mitchell with two minutes left. He stopped 13 shots in the third period.
"Obviously we don't have a Vinny Lecavalier," Wilson said.
The Lightning led 2-1 after a first period in which both teams squandered long two-man advantages.
Jokinen opened the scoring at 5:08, depositing a pretty cross-ice pass from Mark Recchi into an empty net.
Stajan tied it 1-1 at 7:34 with his first of the season by tipping Nik Antropov's centering pass up in the air and past Smith on a dribble.
"That's a game we should have won," Leafs forward Niklas Hagman said. "Our first period was really bad, especially our line, I don't know what kind of hockey we were playing, we just got to stick to the game principle and systems and work a little bit harder.
"The second we got a little bit and the third we created a lot but just couldn't put it in."
Notes: Stamkos was thrilled to earn his first NHL point in Toronto. "I think it was louder than when the Leafs scored," he said. "It was great to have that fan support." ... Smith earned an assist on Lecavalier's first-period goal, becoming the fifth goalie this season to pick up a point. ... Maple Leafs D Luke Schenn, chosen four spots after Stamkos in this year's draft, played his first game since being told that he'd stay with the Maple Leafs rather than return to his junior team, Kelowna of the Western Hockey League. He's the Maple Leafs' first 18-year-old player since Drake Berehowsky in 1990. ... Toronto D Jonas Frogren, scratched Saturday to make room for Jeff Finger, was out of the lineup again along with Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo.
|Jussi Jokinen (1) ASST: Mark Recchi (1), Mike Lundin (2)|
1 - 0 TBL
|PPG - Matt Stajan (1) ASST: Nik Antropov (4), Alexei Ponikarovsky (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Vincent Lecavalier (4) ASST: Vinny Prospal (3), Mike Smith (1)|
2 - 1 TBL
|PPG - Vincent Lecavalier (5) ASST: Vinny Prospal (4), Steven Stamkos (1)|
3 - 1 TBL
|PPG - Mike Van Ryn (2) ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (1), Niklas Hagman (3)|
3 - 2 TBL
|Power Play %||18.8%||15.9%|
|% on Road||14.8%||11.0%|
|% at Home||22.9%||20.6%|
|Jeff Finger Holding against Vincent Lecavalier|
|Mike Van Ryn Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Lukas Krajicek Interference against Mikhail Grabovski|
|Vinny Prospal Holding against Luke Schenn|
|Paul Ranger Hooking against Alexander Steen|
|Chris Gratton Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Jamal Mayers Hooking against Paul Ranger|
|Mike Lundin Hooking against Jeff Finger|
|Marek Malik Holding against Jeff Finger|
|Mike Van Ryn Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Tomas Kaberle Delaying Game-Puck over glass|