TORONTO – Luke Schenn was kicking himself after a poor decision in overtime led to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ latest setback.
A giveaway by the Leafs defenceman during four-on-four extra-time play helped Simon Gagne complete a big comeback victory by the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning, who downed Toronto 4-3.
The game-deciding play occurred after Schenn attempted to dish a backhand pass in the slot to teammate Phil Kessel on a three-on-two rush. Tampa blue-liner Brett Clark broke up the feed and started a two-on-one that Gagne finished by firing the puck past Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson, handing Toronto its third consecutive loss.
“I just tried to make a pass to Phil, they intercepted it, went down and scored,” Schenn said. “I can’t blame anyone else there. It was my bad, bad pass and obviously I wish I could have it back.”
So does Toronto coach Ron Wilson, who was unhappy with his young defenceman’s decision.
“I wish Luke had shot the puck in that situation rather than go to a backhand pass or wait and make a forehand pass,” he said. “Backhand passes, you telegraph them and the defenceman read the play and stepped up, and off on a two-on-one they go.”
The Leafs had ample opportunity to make sure the game never made it to overtime, but instead surrendered a two-goal, third-period lead, the tying marker coming off the stick of Martin St. Louis with just nine seconds to play in the third for his second tally of the game.
His first came earlier in the third, just 1:02 after Toronto had seized a 3-1 advantage. On that play, St. Louis slid undetected behind the Leafs defence, something Wilson said should never happen when a player that skilled is on the ice.
“We had some really missed assignments and a couple of mental mistakes from veteran players that you wouldn’t expect in key moments,” he said. “On the second goal, the defence had no idea that Marty St. Louis is standing behind them, never scanned the ice and that’s a mental mistake.”
The loss represents the second time this month the Leafs let what appeared to be a sure victory slip away on home ice. On Nov. 6, Toronto coughed up a goal with 14 seconds left in a game versus the Buffalo Sabres before eventually falling in a shootout.
“We need to play a full game, a full 60 minutes,” said Nikolai Kulemin, who had a pair of goals against Tampa. “Not 59 minutes, not 59-and-a-half.”