Jan 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk (21) celebrates after scoring the game winning goal on the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 3-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

James van Riemsdyk Scores Late to Lift Toronto Maple Leafs to Win over Lightning

It looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs would be heading to over time yet again. Fresh off a OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Leafs found a way to get the victory when James van Riemsdyk took a pass from Phil Kessel and snapped home the game winner with 4:03 left in the third period. That made the score 3-2, and let the Leafs breathe easy after a regulation 60 minutes.

The shot was first disallowed on the ice, but then overturned by video replay when the puck was shown to have hit the upper back bar, and not the post as was assumed by the referee on the ice.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got the go ahead goal after Tyler Bozak caused a turnover, and passed to Kessel who set up the shot.

The win snapped the Tampa Bay Lightning’s three-game winning streak, and saw the Leafs close the gap on the Lightning in the standings.

Coming into the game, the Lightning were seven points clear of the Leafs for third place in the East. With Steven Stamkos out, the Lightning have been playing incredible, and for the Leafs to get the win was huge.

Not only did they close the gap on the teams ahead of them, but the Toronto Maple Leafs also gave themselves a little breathing room from the teams chasing them.

With the win the Leafs stand at 62 points and are in 4th place. Just one point back are the Montreal Canadians, and the Leafs remain only 5 points up on the Carolina Hurricanes in 8th place.

In the preview for the game, I said that the Leafs would lose 3-2, with Martin St. Louis scoring twice to lead the way for the Lightning. I also pointed out that the Leafs needed to be sure to allow less shots, as they are worst in the league in that regard.

As it turns out, that didn’t happen, as Jonathan Bernier faced 44 shots, stopping 42, including a game saving stop on St. Louis, a minute after van Riemsdyk had put the Leafs ahead.

Clearly, that was the play of the game, and Bernier came away as the second star of the night.

Nazem Kadri was the first star, as he was the only offence the Leafs could muster up for most of the game, scoring two goals in the second period. His two goals give him 14 on the year, while van Riemsdyk added his 21st of the campaign.

The Lightning came back to tie it late in the second on goals from Matt Carle and Mark Barberio.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a night off before taking on the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at the Air Canada Center.

Notes: Both teams were 6-3-1 in their last ten games when the puck dropped… Kessel’s assist on the game winner gives him 28 on the year, to go along with 27 goals…The last time the two teams played St. Louis had a hat-trick.


Tags: Toronto Maple Leafs

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