The Leafs had their four-game home winning streak snapped with a harsh awakening; a 6-2 listless effort at the hands of the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Mercifully, goaltender Frederik Andersen was pulled for the first time this season by coach Mike Babcock. The result was an embarrassing one for the home team in front of 19,491 fans at Scotiabank Arena.
- Auston Matthews ended a six-game goal drought in highlight reel fashion, skating end-to-end and eventually stickhandling past Brayden Point before beating goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was Matthews’s 31st goal of the year.
- Connor Brown registered his sixth goal of the season, although it was inconsequential, coming with just 4.2 seconds left in the game.
- Brown teamed with Frederik Gauthier on a strong shift on a Leafs penalty kill in the first period.
- Matthews looked terrific on his goal, but not so flashy in his own end of the ice. His giveaway led to the opening goal of the game by Tyler Johnson in the first period.
- A 30-second sequence in the second frame chased Frederik Andersen from the game. Johnson had his second of the game, pouncing on a rebound after the puck ricocheted off Andersen’s mask. Then Ondrej Palat was the beneficiary of a Braydon Coburn from the point to put the Bolts up 4-0, prompting the switch in the Leafs’ net in favour of Garret Sparks. Although, defender Nikita Zaitsev is still figuring out who to cover on that play.
- Matthews, post-game: “We didn’t take care of the puck, we didn’t do a lot of things that could have made it easier on us and on our [defence] to breakout the puck and start playing in their end. They established their game early, got into our zone and established O-zone time on us early and it wore us down.”
- In the second period, with the Leafs looking to climb back into the game down 4-1, the team made a horrible line change on the power play, creating a 3-on-1 in the Toronto end with Morgan Rielly the lone defender. The play did not end well for the Leafs, and Cedric Paquette scored shorthanded, dashing any Toronto hopes of a comeback.
- Here’s a tweet that’s consistent with yours truly’s opinion on the ‘travel’ excuses.
Interesting to hear the worn-out adage about how 1st game at home from a western road trip is difficult to play. Really? Western Conference teams hate hearing that excuse. Teams in west have far more road trips to the eastern time zone than eastern teams have to west. #leafs
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) March 12, 2019
In 2019, Rob co-wrote with Evan Gubernick “Hockey Addict’s Guide: Toronto”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.