TORONTO – The Tampa Bay Lightning were able to overcome a 2-0 deficit midway through the second period, but a late Toronto Maple Leafs goal snapped the Bolt's three-game win streak in a 3-2 loss at Air Canada Centre Tuesday in Toronto.
"We played pretty well actually," head coach Jon Cooper said. "I thought we created enough chances to win the game, including a bunch of grade-A chances. We had an opportunity to build a bit of a lead and we didn't, so it's a tough one to swallow."
The Lightning could not have prepared for the division matchup any better. The Bolts registered double-digit shots on net in each period for a total of 42 on the night, but the solid play was disrupted by Maple Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier's performance.
Despite the fact that he and fellow goalie James Reimer gave up 12 goals in their previous two appearances, Bernier bounced back to help lift Toronto to their seventh win in their past nine games. With 40 saves Bernier was named the Second Star of the game.
"You have to give it up to their goaltender, especially with the save on Marty [St. Louis] at the end," Cooper said.
Lightning captain Martin St. Louis' point streak also ended at 10 games (eight goals, six assists).
After a scoreless first period, four goals were tallied in the next 20 minutes of play. First Nazem Kadri netted back-to-back goals for Toronto to give the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead by the midway point of the game.
Kadri's first marker came after he took the puck away from Mark Barberio to score unassisted on Ben Bishop's stick side at 1:49. Eight minutes later, Kadri toe-dragged around Victor Hedman and deked by Bishop for his second goal of the contest.
The Tampa Bay blue line responded before the end of the frame, however, compliments of Matt Carle and Mark Barberio, who scored 3:59 seconds apart for a 2-2 tie.
"We played well in the first period and the Maple Leafs got a couple breaks off of rushes to score their two goals," Carle said. "But on the bench we talked about staying in the game and were awarded with two goals of our own."
Tyler Johnson drew a hooking call on the Maple Leafs, but the Lightning came up short on the man advantage. Immediately following the power play though, Carle was fed a pass from Ondrej Palat to cut Toronto's lead by one with 6:47 left.
"It was a broken play," Carle said. "Palat made a great pass and I was right in the slot, so I took a shot and it went it."
Barberio scored his fourth goal in as many games off of a rebound in front of Bernier's cage to even the game at two at 17:12.
Then in the later minutes of the third, Radko Gudas turned the puck over in the defensive zone, which led to a score from James van Riemsdyk, with just 4:03 left in the contest for a 3-2 lead.
"Just a grave error at the end," Cooper said. "They had their top line on the ice and you can't make mistakes like that."
With six attackers on the ice for the final 1:43 of play, the Lightning attempted to even the score and force overtime. St. Louis had a grade-A chance that Bernier was able to stop though as the Bolts lost their first in a four-game road swing.
UP NEXT – Tampa Bay will spend the evening in Toronto and immediately fly to Ottawa Wednesday morning. Their first stop will be Canadian Tire Centre for practice before facing the Senators Thursday afternoon in what is their second of three straight Atlantic Division matchups. The Lightning will also face the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild as part of their four-game road trip.