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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Lightning - 10/25/16

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Bolts jump out to early lead, add to it before end of opening period. The Lightning are one of the NHL's most potent offensive squads, and showed why early Tuesday by taking the first lead of the night on Steven Stamkos' fourth goal of the season at 1:19 of the opening period. Tampa Bay added to their advantage six minutes later on Alex Killorn's fifth of the year, and Stamkos added another at the 17:12 mark to make it 3-0 for the visitors heading into the first intermission.

The Leafs weren't without their share of scoring chances, but the Bolts are so quick in transition, they can make teams pay for taking risks and breaking down on the defensive end - and that was certainly the case in the first frame of a two-game homestand for Toronto at the ACC.

2. Leafs' deficit increases in second on Hedman's first goal of the year. The Leafs outshot the Lightning 14-9 in the first 20 minutes and had a chance to get on the scoreboard after Tampa took a hooking penalty 16 seconds into the second period, but Bolts goalie Ben Bishop was solid for his team and gave them a shot at increasing the lead. That's what happened at 7:23 of the frame, as blueliner Victor Hedman batted a rebound past Toronto netminder Frederik Andersen to put Tampa ahead by four goals. 

Hedman's goal was his first of the season, and his goal demonstrated it isn't only the Lightning's forwards who can hurt their opponents.

Video: TBL@TOR: Nylander roofs a wrister past Bishop for PPG

3. Nylander puts Buds on the board late in second after sweet pass from Kadri. Toronto continued getting pucks on Bishop - outshooting Tampa 12-6 in the second - and finally broke through with 56.7 seconds left before the intermission when forward William Nylander ripped a shot past the Bolts goalie to make it 4-1.

The goal came on the power play, continuing the Leafs' recent success with the man advantage. And it was Nylander's fourth goal of the year and his third in his past two games. He wouldn't have scored, though, were it not for a brilliant feed from centre Nazem Kadri, who registered his fourth point of the season on the play. Toronto's overall creativity has notably improved from last year's group, but as the final score showed, they still need work on their all-around game.


4. Chances continue for Toronto in third, but Bishop is up the the challenge. Despite being down by three goals when the third period began, the Buds kept pressing and winger James van Riemdsyk earned his team its third power play of the game at the 1:47 mark of the third. However, Bishop continued his strong play, getting at least a piece of virtually everything shot his way. And Tampa Bay added to the lead at the 6:45 mark on Nikita Kucherov's first of the season.

In sum, Tampa Bay was opportunistic throughout the game, and looked every bit like the franchise that has made it at least as far as the Eastern Conference Final in each of the past two seasons.


5. van Riemsdyk and Matthews pull Leafs close, but Buds give too much time and space to Bolts, pay the price. As a reward from the hockey gods for being one of the Leafs' more dangerous players Tuesday, van Riemsdyk scored his third of the year after deflecting a shot from blueliner Nikita Zaitsev at 8:28 of the third, and just 79 seconds after that, centre Auston Matthews capitalized on some nice forechecking in the offensive zone by Nylander and snapped his team-best sixth of the year by Bishop to pull Toronto within two goals of tying the game.

The Leafs kept getting shots on net for the remainder of regulation and the ACC crowd was loud in its appreciation of their determination to get back into the contest, but a Mitch Marner double-minor high-sticking penalty led to the Bolts' sixth goal at 15:10, and Jonathan Drouin scored 46 seconds later on a 2-on-1 Tampa Bay rush to leave no doubt as to the final result. The Leafs will take a number of positives into their next game, Thursday against the visiting Florida Panthers, but they also realize there's work to be done.

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