In losing their third consecutive game in regulation for the first time this year, the Lightning endured some of the same issues that plagued them during the losses at Vegas and Arizona. Here are some of the takeaways from Tuesday's defeat.
- The big storyline of the game was how the Leafs won the special teams battle. Toronto netted two power play goals while the Lightning went 0-3 on their man advantages. Tampa Bay now has yielded five power play goals during the losing streak. In this game, the final stat line for the PK had more to do with Toronto executing two high-end plays than any particular deficiency from the Lightning's unit. On Toronto's first PPG, John Tavares perfectly deflected a puck just inside the post. Later, William Nylander, from the side of the net, put the puck between his skates and roofed a shot into the top of the net. Tip your cap to the opposition. The Lightning's power play was another story. They managed just one shot on net during the three opportunities (combined). They passed their way out of potential scoring chances. They repeatedly missed the net on shot attempts. And they allowed multiple odd-man shorthanded rushes to Toronto.
- The Maple Leafs used two strong segments en route to this victory. They controlled the final eight minutes of the first, scoring twice to erase a 1-0 Lightning lead. Similarly, they dictated play in the final seven and a half minutes of the second, netting their other two goals to break open a 2-2 tie. Their two power play goals came during those segments, of course, and those were detailed above. But they also carried play during five-on-five action in those stretches. As has been the case in recent losses, the Lightning struggled during those minutes with puck management, d-zone coverage and rush coverage. Both of Toronto's even-strength goals came directly off Lightning d-zone turnovers.
- In all three losses, the Lightning have allowed a goal shortly after scoring one themselves. All three of those Lightning goals tied the game at the time. The ensuing tally gave the other team the lead back - for good. In this contest, Tavares' second goal came 31 seconds after Pat Maroon knotted the score at two. The shift after a goal in one of the most important in a game. But the Lightning have not managed those situations well during their skid.
- Circumstances weren't ideal for the Lightning. They were playing the first home game after a week-long road trip. They were incorporating two new players into the lineup (Zach Bogosian and Barclay Goodrow made their Lightning debuts), while Blake Coleman was playing only his fourth game with the team. And they were facing a motivated Toronto team, one that was coming off a lopsided home loss and is battling to hold onto a playoff spot. Perhaps those factors led to how the Lightning looked a bit out of synch during much of the first two periods (although they did have a strong start to the game). In the third period, however, the Lightning found their rhythm. They outshot the Leafs, 14-3, and owned a shot attempt advantage of 22-8. They pulled within a goal and, if not for the goaltending of Frederik Andersen, might have rallied to tie the game. Despite the defeat, their third period play was strong - and they'll look to build on that on Thursday against Chicago.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game (as selected by Phil Esposito):
- John Tavares - Maple Leafs. Two goals.
- Victor Hedman - Lightning. Assist.
- Frederik Andersen - Maple Leafs. 26 saves.