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Burns: 3 Things from an OT loss to the Maple Leafs

Lightning beat writer Bryan Burns recaps the Bolts 3-2 loss in overtime to Toronto

by Bryan Burns / TampaBayLightning.com

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up a point Thursday night versus Toronto, but opportunities were there for the Bolts to come away with two.

The Lightning couldn't capitalize on their chances, however, and squandered a stellar night in net from Andrei Vasilevskiy, who played both halves of a back-to-back and seemed to get stronger as the game went on.

Nazem Kadri took advantage of a 4-on-3 power play in extra time to help Toronto sneak out of AMALIE Arena with a 3-2 overtime victory.

The Lightning have a day off before playing the final tilt in a three-games-in-four-days stretch on Saturday versus Carolina.

We'll examine where the Bolts came up short Thursday night in 3 Things from an overtime loss to Toronto.

 

Video: Cooper on OT loss to Toronto1. PLAYING FROM BEHIND

The Lightning continue to give up the opening goal in games, an issue that has been a constant theme throughout the season.

On Thursday, Auston Matthews scored 14:46 into the contest, taking advantage of a Lightning turnover deep in their own zone, to give Toronto a 1-0 lead after the first period.

The Bolts have now allowed the first goal in four-consecutive games.

On the season, Tampa Bay has had to come from behind in 24 of its 37 games.

"We can't go (behind) every game," said Bolts forward Ondrej Palat, who leveled the game 2-2 late in the second period with his second goal in as many games. "We need to do something about our starts."

The Lightning are now 7-13-4 in games where they give up the first goal.

"Again, first period, slow start," Bolts defenseman Anton Stralman said. "We need to come out a little harder, obviously, and not have to chase the game all the time. We're doing a pretty good job of it, but it makes it hard on us."

On Wednesday, the Lightning were able to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the final 10 minutes against Montreal's Carey Price to pull out a win in overtime.

A day later, the Bolts again were able to rally down 2-0 but weren't as lucky in the extra session.

 Video: TBL Recap: Vasilevskiy makes 32 saves in OT loss

2. POWER PLAY FIZZLES

Tampa Bay's power play has been one of the strongest aspects of its game through the first 37 games of the season.

Coming into the Toronto game, the Lightning ranked third in the NHL on the power play and had scored more power-play goals (30) than any other team in the league.

On Thursday, though, the Bolts' power play let them down, squandering five separate opportunities and failing to generate even the slightest bit of momentum.

"We had some trouble first and second period on the power play," Palat said. "They were pressuring us hard. They were gapping pretty well. They're a good team, and they played really fast today."

With the score tied 2-2, the Lightning were gifted their fifth power play when Zach Hyman tripped Jonathan Drouin at 17:10 of the third period, giving the Bolts a prime opportunity to squeeze home the game-winner. A night earlier against Montreal, the Lightning benefitted from a late third-period power play and leveled the score.

They would have no such luck on Thursday.

Toronto easily killed off the penalty, then took advantage of a power play of its own in overtime to leave Tampa with the victory.

"You give them a 4-on-3 for a full two minutes, they've got some pretty skilled players out there," Cooper said. "We killed three quarters of it off. We had it on our stick to get it down, as I said, and we didn't. It cost us in the end."

 Video: TOR@TBL: Vasilevskiy loses stick, stops Nylander

3. WASTED PERFORMANCE IN NET
Andrei Vasilevskiy was spectacular for the Lightning on Thursday, turning in one of his better performances of the season.

And the Russian netminder was even better in the third period despite playing his second game in as many nights, only the second time in his career he's had to play on back-to-back nights.

With Toronto's forecheck pressuring the Lightning relentlessly in the final period and forcing the Bolts into numerous turnovers, Vasilevskiy was called upon time and time again to come up with a big save.

He was ready to make all of them.

"He was great," Stralman said. "Obviously, he came up huge a few times during that game and gave us a chance to come back, and that's what we did. Unfortunately, in overtime, it can go either way, and they got a power play and executed."

Since Ben Bishop went down with a lower-body injury on December 20 against Detroit, putting him on the shelf for three to four weeks, Vasilevskiy has stepped his game up knowing he's the No. 1 option in goal for the next handful of games.

"Yesterday, the guys played really well and they did everything for me, they scored some goals and (made) some good plays," Vasilevskiy said. "Tonight, I catch a couple pucks for our guys, and we get one point. We're just working together, one team."

 

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