TAMPA — With goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy starting on back-to-back nights for just the second time in his pro career, both times coming in the past week, this was going to be a test for the 22-year-old.
And Vasilevskiy passed big time. For the second straight night, the Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn at least a point. And in Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs, Vasilevskiy was the main reason why with 32 saves.
"He was great," defenseman Anton Stralman said. "He gave us a chance to come back."
Ultimately, the Lightning (18-15-4) fell short in front of 19,092 at Amalie Arena, Nazem Kadri's power-play goal with 1:23 left in overtime the difference. But it has earned points in six of its past eight games and seven of 10 possible since Vasilevskiy took over for injured Ben Bishop as the No. 1.
In Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win against the Canadiens, "the guys played really well and did everything for me," Vasilevskiy said. "(Thursday) maybe I catch a couple pucks for our guys and we get one point. We're working together."
The Lightning had its chances late in regulation, with Ondrej Palat hitting the crossbar with five minutes to go. Tampa Bay also had a power play with just under three minutes left, but it went 0-for-5 with the man advantage in the game.
Kadri's winner came after Valtteri Filppula was called for goalie interference after colliding with Toronto's Antoine Bibeau, who was left on his back. Lightning coach Jon Cooper thought there should have been matching penalties.
"It's hard to swallow going down on that power play," Cooper said. "I had zero idea what (Filppula) could have done there. The only reason he goes into the goalie is because he's hooked and pushed."
The Maple Leafs scored the first two goals of the game, both coming off faceoffs and scrambles near the crease. Toronto star Auston Matthews continued his stellar rookie season with his 18th goal late in the first period. Midway through the second, Vasilevskiy couldn't corral a rebound, and Tyler Bozak was there in the crease to pounce on the loose puck.
But the Lightning kept chipping away. Three minutes after Bozak's goal, Brian Boyle provided a response, beating Bibeau with a shot from the left circle.
Then the Triplets took over. With about three minutes left in the second and Toronto's defensemen stuck on the ice in a long shift, Palat and Tyler Johnson made them pay on the forecheck. Palat and Johnson delivered hits, and Nikita Kucherov left a pass to Palat, who finished from the slot to tie the score.
Unlike Wednesday, when the Lightning's best period was the third, the Maple Leafs had the lion's share of the chances in the final 20 minutes.
"It was turnover heaven," Cooper said. "All the reasons why we took the game over and got back into it, we stopped doing that once (we tied it). We had our moments. But (a) portion of the third period, we forgot what got us back into the game and gave them a little bit of life."
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.
First Period—1, Toronto, Matthews 18 (Hyman), 14:46. Penalties—Toronto bench, served by Marner (too many men on the ice), 5:31; Boyle, TB, (holding), 9:25; Zaitsev, TOR, (holding), 11:41; Kadri, TOR, (slashing), 16:49; Sustr, TB, (interference), 19:58.
Second Period—2, Toronto, Bozak 7 (Van riemsdyk, Zaitsev), 9:26. 3, Tampa Bay, Boyle 9 (Drouin, Sustr), 12:12. 4, Tampa Bay, Palat 6 (Kucherov), 17:38. Penalties—Stralman, TB, (hooking), 2:03; Zaitsev, TOR, (holding), 13:28; Coburn, TB, (hooking), 18:31.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Hyman, TOR, (tripping), 17:10.
Overtime—5, Toronto, Kadri 13 (Nylander, Matthews), 3:37 (pp). Penalties—Filppula, TB, (interference), 2:01. Shots on Goal—Toronto 12-10-10-3—35. Tampa Bay 8-8-11—27. Power-play opportunities—Toronto 1 of 5; Tampa Bay 0 of 5. Goalies—Toronto, Bibeau 1-1-0 (27 shots-25 saves). Tampa Bay, Vasilevskiy 9-5-2 (35-32).