The second line came through with some offence, but when the game was on
the line, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs' first line that won the game, writes Mike Brophy. James van Riemsdyk took a pass from Phil Kessel and drilled his 21st goal of the season, giving Toronto a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
The second line came through with some offence, but when the game was on the line, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs' first line that won the game.
With a little help from their goaltender.
James van Riemsdyk took a pass from Phil Kessel and drilled his 21st goal of the season, giving Toronto a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
The goal for van Riemsdyk ties his single-season high for the 23-year-old. He had 21 in 2010-11 with the Philadelphia Flyers. The point was his 41st of the season which establishes a single-season high for him.
The Maple Leafs held on for the victory and secured it thanks to a marvelous save by Jonathan Bernier on Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis at 16:43. St. Louis, one of the hottest scorers in the NHL, drilled a low one-time that appeared destined to go in, but Bernier did the splits and kicked it out.
Van Riemsdyk credited his linemates Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel fort setting up what was ultimately a pretty easy game-winning goal.
"Bozie did a good job forcing their D to make a play under pressure and he was able to steal the puck and gave it to Phil who slid it over to me and it was laid on a platter for me," van Riemsdyk said.
Kadri cashes in
After scoring just three goals in his previous 25 games, centre Nazem Kadri broke out with a pair against the Lightning; his 13th and 14th of the season. Kadri had a couple of golden opportunities to add to his total; late in the second period when he ripped a shot just inches wide of the Tampa bay net and early in the third when he was set up in front of the net and was stopped by Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.
Kadri said he wasn't as worried about his lack of goal-scoring as perhaps others were.
"I knew I had to stay patient; that was the key," Kadri said. "Everyone wasn't so patient."
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said a few reasons for Kadri's success of late is the fact he is playing more physical; he's been better in the faceoff circle and the coach likes it when the centre plays a more north-south game.
Toronto's Phil Kessel and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis entered the game as two of the NHL's hottest scorers and each missed golden chances to give their team the lead early in the third period. Kessel, who had seven goals and 16 points in his last 11 games had a breakaway and shot wide of the net. St. Louis, with eight goals and 14 points in his past 10 games found himself alone in front of the Toronto net with the puck, but was turned back by Bernier.
Shoot the puck
That has been the message from Maple Leafs coach randy Carlyle all season. Toronto tends to over-pass on plays time and time again, thereby missing out on good scoring chances. And yet there was defenceman Carl Gunnarsson with one of his rare scoring chances all alone in front of the Tampa Bay net with the puck. What does he do? Pass it away, of course, to Tyler Bozak who never retrieved the puck. Poof! Scoring chance gone.
"It seems like we want to find the perfect shot," Carlyle said. "We had numerous opportunities and lots of offensive zone time and it looked like we had an opportunity to get the puck to the net, but we decided otherwise. Those are things that are baffling to us...We'd like to see a lot more of them putting their heads down and ripping the puck."
With the Lightning trailing by two goals in the second period, they hit back-to-back goal posts with the man advantage. Shortly after the Maple Leafs returned to full strength Tampa Bay defenceman Matthew Carle found the back of the net. The Lightning got another power play in the period and once again managed to hit the goal post. Not long after that power play ended, defenceman Mark Barberio scored his fourth of the season to tie the score 2-0.
The pain of it all
Toronto defenceman Tim Gleason had a rough night. In the second period he was nailed with a slap shot in the belly and early in the third Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier tried to clear the puck and the shot hit Gleason in the face with it. Then to top things off, he was crunched into the boards by Tampa Bay's Teddy Purcell at 18:22 of the third period and suffered a shoulder injury.
JVR gets away with one
Toronto left-winger nailed Tampa Bay's J.T. Brown in the head with an elbow midway through the third period and neither of the two referees saw it. Brown was shaken up on the play.
Let's drop the puck
Former Olympian (summer and winter) Clara Hughes dropped the puck between captains Dion Phaneuf of the Maple Leafs and Martin St. Louis of the Lightning before the game. Hughes is the spokesman for Bell Canada's Let's Talk mental health initiative.
Mike BrophyMike Brophy brings a wealth of hockey writing and broadcasting experience to CBC Sports, having covered junior hockey for 14 years before joining The Hockey News as its senior writer for 17 years starting in 1992. Most recently, the Burlington, Ont., native worked as a writer/commentator at Rogers Sportsnet and as co-host of The Power Play on SiriusXM. Mike has written four books, including My First Goal, featuring 50 players describing their first NHL goals.
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