Taking on the top team in the league is never an easy task and it doesn’t get any easier when your home crowd turns on you.
Down 4-1 late in the second period at Scotiabank Arena on Monday night and looking to make it a two-goal game while on the man advantage, things fell apart for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After turning the puck over and watching Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette rifle it down the ice, four (yes, four) Leafs skaters went for a change while Tyler Johnson of the Lightning pursued the free biscuit. With only Morgan Rielly back to give Toronto’s goaltender Garret Sparks some support, the Tampa Bay found themselves on a shorthanded three-on-one and capitalized.
I’ll put down good money that all Leafs fans watching the broadcast of the game were thinking the same thing as they saw the play unfold live. That thought was ‘WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYONE!?!’
You just can’t do that against the best offence in the league and, in case Toronto wasn’t aware of that, the thousands of supporters in attendance made sure to voice their displeasure.
They booed after the tally was surrendered and as the Leafs left the ice following the second period of play.
Although coming back from a road trip through Western Canada is difficult, this kind of performance is simply inexcusable against a squad that Toronto will likely have to defeat if they hope to put together a deep playoff run.
Auston Matthews agreed when questioned following the 6-2 loss.
Auston Matthews: "They pretty much just slapped us."
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) March 12, 2019
No excuses from Auston Matthews: “despite bad bounces, they still beat us in every area of the ice.”
— Justin Cuthbert (@jccuthbert) March 12, 2019
While things may not have gone as planned for the team, Matthews was able to leave the ice knowing that he’d be all over morning highlight shows because of the filthy goal he scored.
The second-period tally, his 31st of the season, broke a six-game goalless streak for the 21-year-old.
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