Tampa Bay Lightning Blow Away Maple Leafs For 2nd Straight Road Win

Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

116. 7. 23. Final. 3

The Tampa Bay Lightning blow away the Toronto Maple Leafs by the score of 7-3 for their second-straight road trip victory.

The Tampa Bay Lightning certainly got off to a good start on their current six-game road trip as they defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Saturday night. Tonight, the Lightning made their way into the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to face a whole new challenge, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This is the first time the Tampa Bay Lightning have been to Toronto since Lightning captain Steven Stamkos signed his shiny, new eight-year deal with the Bolts. The Lightning needed to make an impression, and quickly if they wanted to walk away from this encounter with another two points.

While we’re sure there are still plenty of Toronto Maple Leafs fans who were excited to see Lightning captain Steven Stamkos return to his native land. Unfortunately for them, we have a fairly decent feeling that emotion faded away rather quickly in the first period.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning /

Tampa Bay Lightning

Just over a minute into the first period, the Lightning captain would beat Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen and give the Bolts the early lead. As you can probably imagine, the goal was an absolute beauty.

Maple Leafs star rookie Auston Matthews would play the puck behind the net. Once he had a handle on the puck, he would send it flying through the defensive zone towards the blueline. Unfortunately, before Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman could really get his stick on the puck, the puck would magically disappear.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Andrej Sustr was the first person to really get their stick on the puck. Sustr would slap the puck back into the Lightning’s offensive zone and towards the net. Steven Stamkos would put the brakes on, throw the Stammer train into reverse, cross the net in front of Anderson and send the puck flying through his largely-unguarded glove side.

The Stamkos goal is the first time the Tampa Bay Lightning have scored in the first period all season long. Needless to say, the Lightning weren’t ready to take their feet off the gas anytime soon. Just under six minutes after the Stamkos goal, the Lightning would light the lamp once again.

This time, it would be Lightning forward Alex Killorn who would pick up his fifth goal of the season to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead over the Maple Leafs. Killorn had a really good eye on that particular play. Andersen lost control of the puck, and it ended up behind him. Killer used the opportunity to poke the puck in and give the Bolts a two-goal lead.

The assists on the Killorn goal would be credited to Braydon Coburn and Brayden Point. We’d be completely remiss in our duties if we didn’t bring to light the fact that Point has picked up his third point of the season with his assist on the Killorn goal.

It will most definitely be interesting to see what happens to Brayden Point when Tampa Bay Lightning alternate captain Ryan Callahan makes his return to the ice. It would be pretty hard to send someone who has been playing as hard as Point back to Syracuse, but that is another story for another day.

Back to the game at hand. The Lightning continued their dominance of the first period as Steven Stamkos would earn his second goal of the night (the fifth of the season) with less than three minutes left in the first period. The assists on Stamkos’ second goal would go to Andrej Sustr and Nikita Kucherov.

After not being able to score in the first period through the first five games of the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning would head into the second period with a 3-0 lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Lightning lead has nothing to do with a lack of effort on the Maple Leafs part.

The Maple Leafs outshot the Lightning 14-9 in the first period. This was a pattern that would continue for the Maple Leafs for the remainder of the game, but more on that later.

The second period of play kicked off with much of the same action we saw in the first period. Victor Hedman would pick up his first goal of the season at 7:23 in the second period as he smacked a lost puck through Andersen’s five-hole to give the Lightning a 4-0 lead over the Maple Leafs.

Unfortunately for the Lightning, this is where things would take a rather stressful turn for both them and their fans. At 6:38 in the second period, Maple Leafs forward Peter Holland would bring the puck through the Lightning’s defensive zone and towards the net.

Holland takes the shot and Bishop makes the save. This sounds like a good thing, but it’s really not. You see…Bishop made the stop with his face. Somehow, some way, the puck was able to make its way through the grating on Bishop’s goalie mask and smack him in the face.

This would cause Bishop to lose his two front teeth. Tampa Bay Lightning Head Athletic Trainer Tom Mulligan would rush out to the ice to take a look at Bishop. Unfortunately, with his two teeth snapped in half, there wasn’t a whole lot Mulligan could do for him.

Despite what we would assume was a massive headache and a lot of localized pain, Ben Bishop managed to stay between the pipes for the remainder of the period. We know hockey players are some of the toughest players in the athletic world, but still. We don’t want to imagine the amount of pain he was in after that.

The bad news is, this wasn’t the only bad thing that would happen to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final minutes of the period. With less than three minutes left in the second period, Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov would be sent to the box for holding the stick of Maple Leafs forward William Nylander.

There was less than a minute left on the clock when Nylander, of all players, would beat Ben Bishop and put the puck in the back of the net to finally get the Maple Leafs on the board. Needless to say, this isn’t the way the Lightning wanted to end the second period, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

Thankfully for the Bolts, things would swing back their direction in the early part of the third period. The Lightning’s 2015-16 leading point scorer, Nikita Kucherov, would pick up his first goal of the season with the assists from Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov.

In all honesty, it almost seemed like Kucherov’ goal was simply meant to be. Steven Stamkos would skate behind the net with the puck. As he came out the other side, he sent the puck flying across the ice. The puck ricocheted off the skate of Maple Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick’s stick and went right to Kucherov.

Without the slightest hesitation, Kucherov shot the puck and it sailed right into the back of the net. You could almost see the relief make its way across Nikita Kucherov’ face as the lamp lit up. There is a lot of pressure on you when you score like Kucherov does, and to go scoreless through five games must have been torture.

Unfortunately, things were about to go topside for the Bolts. After having control for much of the game, the tides started to shift for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Suddenly, the Bolts found themselves fighting off a rallying Maple Leafs team who would stop at nothing to get control of the game.

It all started at 8:28 in the third period with a goal from Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk. Just over one minute later, the Maple Leafs would strike again. This time, it would be Maple Leafs star rookie Auston Matthews who would get past Bishop and lessen the Lightning’s lead to 5-3.

Just when it seemed like the game was about to slip through the fingers of the Tampa Bay Lightning, their Power Play unit kicked on the afterburners and got down to business. Everything would start when Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula would get nailed in the face by Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner.

The ref didn’t even bother to check on Valtteri Filppula when he would call for the penalty. After finally taking a look at Flipper, they discovered Marner’s stick had drawn blood and the penalty was escalated to a double minor.

Now that the Lightning had a four-minute opportunity with the man advantage, they could final rustle back control of the game. This opened the door for Namestnikov to strike. Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman would take a shot at the net, but Andersen would send the puck away.

Fortunately, Namestnikov exercised his excellent net-front presence to dig deep for the rebound and the puck would once again sail past Andersen. This would give the Lightning a 6-3 lead over the Maple Leafs.

Less than a minute later, while the Lightning were on the second half of their double minor Power Play opportunity, the Lightning would strike once again. Jonathan Drouin would make his way into the offensive zone along with two of his teammates.

Related Story: Steven Stamkos Opens Up The Scoring In Toronto (Video)

The three-on-one opportunity opened the door for Drouin to easily put the puck past Andersen and into the back of the net. This would bring the Lightning to a 7-3 lead over the Maple Leafs. Four minutes and four seconds later, the buzzer would sound and the Lightning would pick up their second-straight road win.

The first thing we want to do is tip our hats to Ben Bishop. Not only did Ben Bishop tough out what must have been the worst headache known to man after having both of his front teeth knocked out late in the second period, but he managed to stop 40 of 43 shots brought against him by the Maple Leafs.

This gave Ben Bishop a Save Percentage of .930 against the Maple Leafs. As for Frederik Andersen, he would only face 24 shots on goal at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It just happens that seven of those 24 shots went into the back of the net.

This means the Tampa Bay Lightning scored a goal every 3.4 shots on goal. Those are some pretty amazing stats if you ask us. Also, while we’re at it, we’re pretty sure the entire team owes Ben Bishop a nice steak dinner after tonight’s performance. Of course, it will have to be sometime after he gets his teeth fixed.

Another matter of note is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Power Play unit. The Lightning went two-for-four on the power play tonight. The Bolts have now scored seven times on 23 power play opportunities this season. This puts the Lightning in third place in the NHL on the Power Play with a 30.4 percentage.

We’d also like to take a moment to shine a light on the fact that Nikita Kucherov finally broke his scoring drought. As we mentioned before, when you are a team’s leading point scorer from the previous season, there are some pretty high expectations on you; especially right after signing a new deal.

Coming up short in the first five games of the season must have been a rather large weight to bear. Thankfully, that has finally been put to rest and Kucherov can get down to business and work on repeating his performance from last season.

Next up, the Tampa Bay Lightning will make their way to the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. The Lightning have a pretty heated rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens; especially after their many meetings in the postseason.

Next: Valtteri Filppula Making A Name For Himself This Season

Right now, the Montreal Canadiens lead the Atlantic Division with 11 points. Their one loss this season came in a shootout against the Ottawa Senators on October 15th. Of course, the Tampa Bay Lightning are right behind them (along with the Detroit Red Wings) with 10 points. Needless to say, you won’t want to miss a moment of the action.