Mo Goals in Movember - Leafs Embarrass Lightning 7-1
When the Leafs decide they're going to score goals, they really score goals. The widespread panic that fans experienced last week caused by the fact that the Leafs scored only 8 goals through six games has subsided. For the second time in their last three games, the Leafs exploded offensively for a 7-1 victory. Tonight their opponent was the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that shut out Toronto in both home games last season. They are also pretty much the exact same team that went 3-0-1 against the blue and white last year outscoring them 15-5 in that process.
From the opening face off last night the Leafs demonstrated that this years team is significantly different. Clark MacArthur scored less than a minute into the game. Although the Lightning pressured the Leafs for most of the opening 20 minutes, the Leafs red-hot power play (42.1% in the six previous games) took the period over with goals from Tim Connolly and Tyler Bozak. Connolly had a three point first period, and now has 10 points in 10 games. His patience and creativity have been a big boost to the Leafs PP.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 27 of 28 shots on the night, and made some nice saves when the game was still in doubt. As has happened on more than a few occasions this season, the Leafs stopped moving their feet and were on their heels for long stretches. The Lecavalier - Stamkos - St.Louis line buzzed the Leafs zone more than a couple of times. However, the Leafs snapped out of it part way through the second period and never looked back.
The entire Toronto blueline had a strong night, but rookie Jake Gardiner (two assists +4) and Cody Franson (one assist and knocked all of Lecavalier, Stamkos and St.Louis on their asses tonight) stood out. Luke Schenn was also a +3 in 18:49 on the night. Tyler Bozak also had a three point night, and showed some good spark. Matt Frattin had two assists on two strong net drives, his first led to Joe Colborne's first NHL goal. In four career NHL games Colborne now has a goal and two assists. Joey Crabb and Joffrey Lupul also scored for the Leafs. Considering the Leafs scored seven goals and NHL goals and points leader Phil Kessel had only one assist illustrates how much of a balanced and team effort tonight was.
The Leafs penalty kill continues to build confidence killing five of six Lightning power plays. The officials had a horrible game tonight. Tim Connolly, Cody Franson, Jay Rosehill and Jake Gardiner (twice) were given phantom penalties. However Lightning winger Ryan Malone hit Jonas Gustavsson flush in the back behind the net and received nothing. According to the NHL statement released following the Ryan Miller-Milan Lucic incident Malone deserved at least a minor penalty.
Men of the Match
Leafs: Tim Connolly - The smooth skating pivot seemed to put it on cruise control following his three point first period. He is a dangerous weapon that the Leafs have not had both 5-5 or on the power play for quite a while. He seems to be only getting better with more games.
Lightning : Martin St.Louis - Made a perfect pass to Lecavalier for the Lightning's only goal. Was strong on the puck tonight, but couldn't do it all on his own.
Bowenism of the Night
Greg Millen: "That's a penalty Joe, you can't hit the goalie" Joe Bowen: "The referee demonstrated that it wasn't a penalty since Gustavsson was out of his crease" Millen: "It doesn't matter Joe where he is" Bowen: "Then why did the Ref motion like that" Millen: "I don't know why, but it should have been a penalty" Bowen: "THAT'S MY POINT!!"
The Leafs will continue their road trip as they take on the Dallas Stars on Friday.