Skip to main content
game recap

Smith's go-ahead goal in third lifts Maple Leafs

Toronto adds two empty-net goals in win against Lightning

by Mike Brophy / Correspondent

Smith nets rebound for the lead

TBL@TOR: Smith jams home rebound goal on Vasilevskiy

3/15/16: Ben Smith guides the rebound through the pads of Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period

  • 00:56 •

TORONTO -- Ben Smith said it may have been his worst game with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he'll take it.

Smith's first goal of the season midway through the third period was the game-winner when the Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. Smith also had an assist.

Zach Hyman and PA Parenteau scored empty-net goals for the Maple Leafs, who have won three of their past four games.

"This is my ninth game with Toronto and to finally put one in the net felt good," Smith said. "It was probably one of my worst couple of games here as a Leaf. Overall, there were a lot of things I could have done better, but offensively it was my best game."

Video: TBL@TOR: Carrick opens the scoring on great effort

Smith had not scored a goal in the NHL since March 29 with the San Jose Sharks. He was upset that earlier in the third period he was stripped of the puck in the Toronto zone and the play led to Tampa Bay tying the score 1-1.

"You never want to be soft like that around the net," Smith said. "I take responsibility for that. It was nice to get that right back for the guys. I definitely owed it to them and we were able to go on and win the game."

Toronto coach Mike Babcock agreed that Smith did not have one of his better games since being acquired from San Jose on Feb. 27.

"I just think Smitty is a pretty dependable guy and he might be right about it not being his best game, but he's an honest player and he's a guy you trust because he does it right each and every night," Babcock said. "He's a work guy, a common sense guy and he tries hard. He has been excellent for us."

Video: TBL@TOR: Bernier denies Hedman with the pad

Tampa Bay (40-25-5) is 19-14-2 on the road including 7-2-0 in its past nine road games. The Lightning played without center Valtteri Filppula who sustained an upper-body injury against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Filppula is expected to miss at least the next two games.

Toronto (24-34-11) will play its next five games at home.

After a scoreless first period when Toronto outshot Tampa Bay 6-5, the Lightning had the first quality scoring chance when defenseman Victor Hedman had a wrist shot hit off the post on the power play at 1:25 of the second period.

Peter Holland had a chance to give the Maple Leafs the lead at 8:15 when he broke in alone on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, but his attempt to slip a backhand between the goalie's legs was stopped.

Maple Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at 13:34 of the second period.

Carrick got the puck and drove hard to the net in a scoring attempt, crashing into Vasilevskiy, who recovered when Carrick made his way back to his position at the right point. Holland had the puck at the side of the net and attempted a shot that was deflected to Carrick, who caught it, quickly dropped it to the ice and swiped it past Vasilevskiy. It was Carrick's first goal of the season and first with the Maple Leafs.

Tampa Bay tied it at 6:33 when defenseman Anton Stralman stole the puck from Smith and slipped a quick pass to center Brian Boyle who wristed home his 11th goal of the season.

Video: TBL@TOR: Parenteau adds to the Maple Leafs' lead

Smith later worked his way to the front of the Tampa Bay net, took a pass from Michael Grabner and slipped a shot between Vasilevskiy's legs at 9:07.

Hyman scored at 18:27 and Parenteau 40 seconds later for a 4-1 lead.

Tampa Bay had 11 shots on goal through the first two periods.

"How many times are we going to talk about the inconsistency of our game?" Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "It's frustrating. It shouldn't matter who you are playing; give an effort. The first two periods we had 11 shots on net. That's not going to win you hockey games. We have to be better. You have to generate from both side of the puck, from defense to the offense. We're not doing either.

"We had some good chances in the third, but we had a breakdown that led to a Toronto goal. I don't care who you are playing; this is a competitive league and teams are going to take advantage of your mistakes. They did that tonight. We shot ourselves in the foot with the way we came out."

Video: Carrick, Smith score first goals of the season in win

View More