Leafs suffer second straight loss in Florida

Leafs scorers: Santorelli (8), Lupul (9)
Lightning scorers: Callahan (12), Filppula (7), Stamkos (20)
Goalies: Bishop (Win) 59:31 minutes played, 21 saves, 2 GA, Reimer (Loss) 58:37 minutes played, 38 saves, 3 GA

After a disheartening loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday in which they relinquished a two-goal lead in the third period, the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to avenge their poor play and put the game behind them with a strong start on Monday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It seemed like the Leafs had rid themselves of all remnants from the night before when they took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Mike Santorelli (pictured) just four minutes into the first period on the team’s first shot. Joffrey Lupul added to their lead just three minutes later.

But the Leafs weren’t the only team to get on the board early, and Ryan Callahan got his team on the board on a power play goal in the opening minutes of the second period. Just like their opponents in the first, Valtteri Filppula scored the Lightning’s second goal a few minutes later to complete their comeback and tie the game.. It was the second time in consecutive nights that the Leafs had given up a two-goal lead.

With the momentum clearly in their favour, the Lightning dominated throughout the third and were at one point outshooting the Leafs 23-4. They were finally rewarded at the midway point of the period when Steven Stamkos gave his team the lead for the first time. Although the Leafs came close to tying the game with the extra man in the final minutes, the Lightning would hand the Leafs their second loss in a row, making the Leafs record 0-2 in Florida.

Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf spoke to the media after the game about what went wrong against the Lightning. “We’ve given up far too many shots. Granted, tonight is a back-to-back game. They’re sitting here waiting. I think you could tell what team was fresher, but with saying that, that’s part of playing in the National Hockey League. You’ve got to be able to play back-to-back’s.”

The Leafs will head to Boston where they’ll play the Bruins on New Year’s Eve.