The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t let a late Tampa Bay rally affect their game plan Monday night. Instead they refocused to show they could compete with the top team in the Eastern Conference.
William Nylander scored twice and added an assist and James van Riemsdyk scored the go-ahead goal in the third period to lead Toronto to a 4-3 win over the Lightning.
“Everybody kind of just took a deep breath and went back to playing how we did in the first two periods,” said Auston Matthews, who picked up three assists. “[We] took care of the puck a little more, [we] just got in deep and obviously a big goal by James there.”
“We’ve found a rhythm and this is what we want to stick to,” Nylander added.
Jake Gardiner also scored for the Leafs (34-19-5), who won their fifth consecutive home game and eight of their last nine games overall. Toronto gained two points on Tampa Bay and trail the Lightning by six points for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Frederik Andersen made 28 saves to collect his 28th win of the season.
Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, and Yanni Gourde scored goals for Tampa Bay (38-15-3). Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves in defeat.
Leafs open scoring
The Leafs opened the scoring in the first period when Nylander picked up a pass from Matthews in the slot. Nylander’s one-timer beat Vasilevskiy. Jake Gardiner picked up the secondary assist at 11:55.
The Leafs made it 2-0 early in the second period with Nylander’s second goal of the game. He picked up a lead pass from Matthews from centre ice and beat Vasilevskiy’s blocker side. Mitch Marner picked up a secondary assist.
“I felt like he was creeping over [to the glove side] a lot there, so I just tried to sneak it by him,” Nylander said of the goal.
All the right moves. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TMLtalk?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TMLtalk</a> <a…