The Toronto Maple Leafs played a game without any competitive significance against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. And they lost 3-1. It seems the Maple Leafs were more focused on the upcoming first-round playoff tie against the Boston Bruins.
Frederik Andersen, who lacked consistency during March, had a good night in front of a crowd of 19,400 at Scotiabank Arena. The Danish goalie had 26 saves, but could little to prevent his team from losing. The same goes for Mitch Marner, whose goal gave the Maple Leafs the lead in the first period.
Andrei Vasilevsky had 29 saves for the Presidents’ Trophy winners, leading his team to their 61st win of the season. The Lightning is the second team in the history of NHL to win more than 60 games in the regular season, and they are only 1 win away from the record set by the Detroit Red Wings in 1996. They’ll have the chance to tie this record on Saturday when they play their last game of the regular season against the Bruins.
Nikita Kucherov was also on the scoresheet, with his 40th goal this season, while Ryan McDonagh had two assists.
Both Teams Have Already Cemented Their Positions
This game meant nothing in the standings, as Tampa secured the league top position earlier in March, while the Maple Leafs couldn’t go up or down for the third place in the Atlantic Division.
Toronto opened the scoring at 4:41 into the first period when Marner managed to beat Vasilevskiy and scored this 26th goal this season.
The Lightning scored an equalizer in the second period and the two teams started the third period tied 1-1. Tampa completed the comeback with 5.48 left on the clock after Killorn beat Andersen to score his 18th goal of the season.
The Maple Leafs had their chances to even the score, but Vasilevskiy saved his goal. The game was definitely over after Kucherov sealed the win.
Toronto will start its playoff campaign next week at TD Garden in Boston, against the Bruins, while the Lightning are still waiting to find out the name of their first-round rival.
The third period was very exciting, as Jonh Tavares had a chance to score a goal, but Vasilevskiy couldn’t be beaten. On the other side, Andersen saved Gourde’s and Point’s shots. With less than 7 minutes left to play, Tavares once again had a chance, but Vasilevskiy again saved the net.
The Maple Leafs will end their regular season in Montreal on Sunday when they’ll take on the Canadiens at Centre Bell.