TAMPA, Florida (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs had some help on
Down by a goal in the third period, the Maple Leafs, in front of
a supportive crowd of mostly Toronto fans and Canadian tourists,
forced overtime with six minutes left in regulation, and John
Mitchell netted the winner in the shootout for the 4-3 victory
over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Mitchell, who scored the Maple Leafs’ first goal in the second
period, netted his first shootout goal of his career and the
Maple Leafs avoided a four-game, season-series sweep by the
Lightning. Tampa Bay outscored the Maple Leafs 16-10 this season
and had won six straight against them.
“Usually, I kind of deke,” Mitchell said of his shootout goal,
“so that time I told myself, ‘You know what? I’m going to try
shooting and see how it goes that way.’ And It worked out.”
Mitchell’s deciding goal was scored in the sixth round of the
shootout after Toronto trailed 3-0 in the second period.
“That was a great game,” Maple Leafs defenseman Ian White said.
“I know we never said die and kept battling, kept shooting pucks
and then completely dominated that third period.”
Jeff Hamilton, who tied it at 3, scored the first shootout goal.
Vincent Lecavalier scored the Lightning’s only shootout goal on
a deke past Curtis Joseph to force the extra rounds.
Mitchell won it with a low shot past the right skate of goalie
The Lightning went ahead 3-0 on a power-play tally by
Lecavalier, who has a team-high 29 goals.
Steven Stamkos and Matt Pettinger added a pair of goals only 10
seconds apart, matching the Lightning’s second fastest two goals
“We go up 3-0 and lose the game,” said Stamkos, the No. 1
overall pick in last year’s draft. “That’s totally unacceptable.
We can’t afford to do that. They got the two points, and we were
able to salvage one, if you want to look at that as a positive.”
Jason Blake scored the second goal for the Maple Leafs four
minutes into the third. Each time Toronto scored, the arena was
filled with chants of “Go Leafs Go.”
“That was unbelievable. It was actually sometimes louder than it
is at the (Air Canada Centre),” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said,
referring to the Maple Leafs’ home arena.
“A Tuesday night in Tampa (and) it seems like we had the home
fans for the majority, which gave us a little extra boost,”
This was the second straight game decided by a shootout for the
Lightning. Tampa Bay beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday.
Ramo, who had 36 saves, stopped Lee Stempniak, Mikhail
Grabovski, Blake and Nikolai Kulemin in the shootout. Joseph,
who had 19 saves, stopped Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Ryan
Malone, Vaclav Prospal and Evgeny Artyukhin in the tiebreaker.
In just his eighth start, the 41-year-old Joseph has come
through recently and his efforts have been noticed.