Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS
“It was 4-1” is a phrase that is engrained into the hearts of many Leafs fans, used to describe a game that took the peaks and valleys of the past decade and change and threw them into a blender. Steven Stamkos now has his 4-1 moment; an era-closing game, one that actually ended with that score, and one that could be his last against the Leafs in his career. This time, though, the Leafs were winners.
Many were hoping that the coin would land on the other side for the sake of the tank tonight, but there was no way that the Leafs were letting this game go easily. After outshooting the Lightning in the first, the Leafs went on to open the scoring courtesy of Connor Carrick, who tracked a bouncing puck and blasted it past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The goal was the only one of the game until six minutes into the third period, where Brian Boyle turned a puck originally held by former Leafs defenceman Anton Stralman into his eleventh of the season to tie it up. The Leafs regained the lead shortly after, though, as Ben Smith was in just the right position to get a rebound off of Michael Grabner’s slapshot to make it 2-1. Empty netters from Zach Hyman and P.A. Parenteau sealed the deal in the closing minutes.
First goal as a Leaf and the team’s top possession player tonight with a 64.3% CF. Plus that reaction. How do you pick anybody other than Connor Carrick? You don’t, that’s how.
See You Next Time
The state of Florida continues their invasion of the Air Canada Centre on Thursday when the Leafs host the Florida Panthers. When this matchup happened late last year, Sam Carrick scored his first goal of as a Leaf; a neat parallel, even if the two aren’t even related to each other. Some might say that this could be Jaromir Jagr’s last game at the Air Canada Centre, though if we’re being realistic, he’s probably going to face the Leafs another 50 times before he considers retirement. Puck drop is at 7:30.