Daily observers of the Maple Leafs have been wondering whether Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul would start to click more often than not. Perhaps we started to get the answer on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre. Kadri scored two goals as he and Lupul were dangerous on most shifts, leading the Leafs to a 3-2 win against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning before a crowd of 19,475. “Over the last couple of weeks I feel we have been playing some really good hockey, but not getting the results like tonight to show for it,” Kadri said. “We had some assists here, some assists there, set up some plays and everyone thinks we are not clicking. We needed to start moving in the right direction and I think tonight was certainly a huge step for us.” Still, the Leafs’ top line wasn’t about to go silently into the harsh January night. With just over four minutes remaining in the third period, James van Riemsdyk took a pass from Phil Kessel — after Tyler Bozak had forced a turnover by Tampa defenceman Radko Gudas — and fired the puck over the shoulder of 6-foot-7 goalie Ben Bishop. Following a brief review, the goal stood and the Leafs were on their way to their seventh win in nine games. The Leafs had a scare when rugged defenceman Tim Gleason departed late in the game, favouring a shoulder. But Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said tests showed no structural damage and that Gleason had suffered just a burner. It goes without saying that the victory wouldn’t have happened had goalie Jonathan Bernier not been stellar. One positive that comes from the cold weather we’ve endured in recent weeks is that area ponds — those that haven’t been filled in for suburban development — have again become the places to play some shinny. You would think the Leafs and Lightning might have stopped to watch some of the carefree games. For much of the evening, sloppy hockey was the order, with Bernier getting a close view. Bernier made 40 saves and improved to 7-1-2 when he faces 40 or more shots. He got the best of Martin St. Louis no less than six times, saves that helped end St. Louis’ 10-game points streak.
Late goal seals win for Maple Leafs over Lightning
Toronto Sun | Jan 29