Toronto Maple Leafs finding ways to dig deep during winning streak

Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (88) celebrates scoring a goal in overtime with center John Tavares (91) against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander (88) celebrates scoring a goal in overtime with center John Tavares (91) against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /

In a game where the Toronto Maple Leafs were having a tough time beating Andrei Vasilevskiy, their top players came through against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

There were moments in the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning where it looked like the Toronto Maple Leafs were going to break through had it not been for Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The margin for error was quite slim for Jack Campbell especially in the third period when the Lightning had some Grade-A chances that required some heroic saves. His performance energized the team right to end as John Tavares came in with a clutch shot to send the game to overtime.

Once again, Tavares’ tenacious play led to Tampa Bay taking a penalty in overtime and that’s when the Leafs knew they had the defending champs on the ropes. Sheldon Keefe sent out the nuclear power play option with the “Core Four” forwards of Tavares, William Nylander, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner who got the job done.

There were some bright moments in the game including the fourth line getting multiple opportunities that would’ve likely gone in had it not been for Vasilevskiy. Ondrej Kase looked like he had some extra pop tonight but the rest of his line couldn’t capitalize on the energy he brought.

Many also brought up how the young defensive pairing of Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren didn’t look out of place especially in their own end. It says something that Keefe continues to show confidence in his young defencemen as Justin Holl continues to sit out.

After a brutal start to the season with some rough performances, the Leafs seem to be rounding into form over the last couple of games but they still have work to do as they face another tough test against the Boston Bruins.

John Tavares vocal about Mikhail Sergachev’s hit on Mitch Marner

Late in the first period, Marner found a way to break past Victor Hedman which forced the Lightning defenceman to take a clear hooking penalty. Then Mikhail Sergachev came in as Marner was getting tied up and caught him with a hit to the head.

This drew a crowd of players as Tavares wanted to let Sergachev know that he did not like the hit at all and made it known in his comments.

"“I thought Mitchy was pretty exposed, no chance to really protect himself or see it coming,” Tavares told reporters. “Just didn’t like it at all — hit him right in the head.“We want that stuff out of our game,” Tavares added, “it certainly should be talked about. at least”"

Marner said that Sergachev apologized for the incident and unfortunately, the Leafs had a lacklustre effort with a full two minutes at 5-on-3. This is something the Leafs as a group need to address considering it’s a moment like that where they got the opening they needed to breakthrough.

Seeing Tavares’ reaction shouldn’t be surprising considering what he went through in the playoffs. It’s good that Marner wasn’t injured on the play and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sergachev get a hearing.

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What did you think about the Leafs’ performance against the Lightning? Do you expect Sergachev to be disciplined for his hit on Marner? Let us know in the comments below.