NHL Game Summary - Tampa Bay at Toronto
(Tuesday, October 28th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Toronto 2
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Vinny Lecavalier scored twice and Mike Smith was stellar with 37 saves, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.
Jussi Jokinen also scored for Tampa Bay, which has won two of its last three games after the club began the season with a five-game winless skid. Vinny Prospal posted two assists in the victory.
"It's no secret that we dug ourselves a hole and we have to try to get out of it," said Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis. "We've got to learn to stay more disciplined. We've got a couple wins and the team chemistry will take care of itself."
Mike Van Ryn and Matt Stajan scored for the Maple Leafs, who saw their two- game win streak halted. Vesa Toskala allowed three goals on 25 shots in the loss.
Smith made two strong saves in succession near the 11-minute mark of the third period to keep the Lightning ahead by one goal. With 10:55 remaining, Smith's glove thwarted a blast from the high slot by Alexei Ponikarovsky and he followed with a stunning save on Niklas Hagman's deflection chance from near the top of the crease.
With 5:10 to go in regulation, the Leafs had a 2-on-1 break but Ponikarovsky's blazing wrist shot was turned aside by Smith, whose best save of the game occurred on a John Mitchell wrister from the outer rim of the left circle with 1:55 on the clock. Smith ended with 13 saves in the final stanza.
The Leafs pulled Toskala for the extra skater in the final minute, but the visitors held on for the one-goal victory.
The Lightning opened the scoring 5:08 into the first period. A soft shot from the right point by Mike Lundin caromed onto the stick of Mark Recchi in the low slot beneath the left circle. Recchi then backhanded a pass across the top of the crease for an easy tap-in by Jokinen past the sliding Toskala.
Less than three minutes later, the Maple Leafs tied it up on a power-play goal by Stajan. Strong forechecking by Ponikarovsky along the rear boards allowed the puck to remain in the Toronto offensive zone and Nik Antropov gained control along the right half-wall. Antropov sent a pass into the low slot, where Stajan redirected the puck and it bounced over the goal line after Smith momentarily had control.
Toronto failed to cash in on a two-man advantage with under 10 minutes remaining in the first period.
"We weren't moving the puck well -- we got away from putting pucks towards the net," said Van Ryn. "We weren't making good passes."
Tampa Bay moved ahead 2-1 with 4:23 to go in the first. Smith started the play when he corralled a dump-in behind the net and sent the disc up the boards along the left side. Prospal's long pass across the neutral zone was intended for Lecavalier, who won a race for the puck, hustled in on a partial breakaway, deked around Toskala and lit the lamp.
At the 4:08 mark of the second stanza, Lecavalier struck again, this time on the power play. Jamal Mayers was whistled for hooking at the 4:03 mark and the visitors needed only five seconds to cash in. Following a faceoff inside the left circle that began the man-advantage, the puck became caught up in sticks and skates in the low slot and it eventually squirted to Lecavalier, who was unchecked and lifted a backhander over Toskala's shoulder from near the right post for a 3-1 lead.
Van Ryn's power-play goal at the 13:15 mark -- assisted by Mikhail Grabovski and Hagman -- of the middle session brought the Leafs within one.
Tampa Bay will play six of its next seven games on the road...The Lightning snapped a six-game skid at Toronto...The Leafs, who converted both of their goals via the power play, had six chances with the extra chances while the visitors were 1-for-5 with the extra skater...Attendance was 19,348.
10/28 22:53:17 ET