July 16th, 2024

Tavares scores in OT as Leafs rally to beat Lightning 4-3

By Mark Didtler, The Associated Press on October 21, 2023.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – John Tavares scored with 55 seconds left in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.

Tavares scored from in-close off a pass from William Nylander.

“We found a way,” Tavares said.

Matthew Knies had two goals in a span of 2:22 in the third period as Toronto tied it 3-3. The second, at 14:33, came while he was down on one knee.

“It just feels awesome,” said Knies, who also had an assist. “It just feels really good that we could come out with a win here.”

Max Domi had the first assist on both of Knies’ goals.

“A good test for our group and we stuck with it,” Domi said.

Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist for Tampa Bay. His point-blank shot with 15 seconds left in regulation was turned aside by Joseph Woll, who had 29 saves after coming in for starter Ilya Samsonov, who was pulled at 13:29 of the first period after allowing three goals on four shots.

Alex Barré-Boulet scored the other Lightning goal, and Jonas Johansson made 48 saves. Steven Stamkos had an assist to tie Pat Verbeek for 74th place on the career points list with 1,062.

“I thought he should have been all three stars (of the game),” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of Johansson. “Obviously frustrated. Watched that movie before against these guys. Disappointing just the way that the players handled the third period.”

This was the first meeting between the teams since Tavares scored a first-round series-clinching overtime goal in Game 6 in Tampa last April.

Johansson is filling in for the injured Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is not expected back until late November or early December following back surgery in September.

Nylander also scored for the Maple Leafs.

Kucherov had a pair of power-play goals and assisted on Barré-Boulet’s even-strength goal as Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in the first period.

It was Kucherov’s 15th career three-point period, which is one short of Martin St. Louis’ team record. The right wing scored twice in a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.

Nylander opened the scoring 4:16 into the game with Tavares picking up an assist. Nylander and Tavares are just the second pair of Toronto teammates in the past 30 years to have season-opening point streaks of at least five games.

STEADY STAMKOS

Cooper hasn’t seen any difference in Stamkos despite his contract uncertainty.

Stamkos, in the final season of a $68 million, eight-year contract, expressed disappointment at the start of training camp about the lack of contract talks.

“Honestly, had that not come up, I probably wouldn’t even known it existed, and that’s how it is in the (locker) room,” Cooper said. “Everybody in our locker room is team-oriented focused. Steven is the leader of that group. It hasn’t affected him. His play has been great.”

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois said discussions won’t begin until after the season ends. Tampa Bay is facing serious salary cap issues.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Play Tuesday night at Washington.

Lightning: Host Carolina on Tuesday night.

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

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