The Tampa Bay Lightning had its second road victory in its pocket and then ripped a hole, letting the game slip through.
Mistakes clearing the puck out of its own zone led to three quick goals and ruined a good effort by the expansion team in a 5-3 loss to Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.
"If we make those mistakes in their zone or the neutral zone, we can recover," Lightning coach Terry Crisp said. "But we turned the puck over three times at our end, and bingo, three goals for them."
Toronto's Todd Gill, Mike Krushelnyski and Nikolai Borschevsky all scored in a 5:15 span of the final period to turn a 3-2 deficit into a victory before a crowd of 12,672.
"We got lucky and stole two points," Gill said. "But being on the bottom of the standings (in the Norris Division) didn't make us happy. I think the reason that they had the mistakes was because we put a lot more pressure on them in the third period then we did in the first two.
"(Toronto coach) Pat Burns came in and read us the riot act (after the second period). He said we better get our act together or there were going to be some player moves."
Thursday night's game against Toronto was the Lightning's fourth game of a five-game road trip that began last Friday and ends tonight in Buffalo.
Teams shoot for .500 on the road and the Lightning is 1-2-1 for three points out of a possible eight. Tampa Bay (2-2-1 overall) will have to defeat the Sabres (2-2) at Memorial Auditorium tonight to get to .500.
"I can't fault our effort," said Crisp, whose team outshot the Maple Leafs 26-22, including 7-6 in the final period. "We were driving to the net even in the last nine seconds. We lost because of mental mistakes and that's going to happen with an expansion team sometimes."
The Maple Leafs entered the game looking for their first win of the season. They lost at home to Washinton 6-5 and at Calgary 3-2 and they tied at Edmonton 3-3.
"We need to win," Toronto first-year coach Pat Burns said before the game. "We've been in every game. But that's not good enough."
This is the first of nine games between the two teams.
"We know playing Tampa Bay will be no cakewalk," Burns said. "We're not much better than these guys."
But after two periods, the Maple Leafs found themselves down again.
Mikael Andersson scored the first short-handed goal in Lightning history to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead at 8:12 of the second period.
Andersson received a perfect drop pass from Brian Bradley and fired a shot from 25-feet that was so hard it would have made Bobby Hull proud. Before Toronto goalie Grant Fuhr could react, the puck flew over his right shoulder.
That goal came just 44 seconds after Danton Cole tied the game with both teams down a player. After receiving a perfect centering pass from Anatoli Semenov, Cole faked the shot, went around Dave McLlwain and sent a wrist shot between the pads of Fuhr.
Cole, obtained from Winnipeg for future considerations, pumped his fist after scoring his first goal of the season and 22nd of his NHL career.
The Toronto fans booed after the Maple Leafs' second-period effort.
"I can't repeat what was said in the locker room," Toronto defenseman Jamie Macoun said. "Regardless of whether it was Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh, we weren't happy with our situation. We've been close, but we needed to get the win."
The Lightning scored just 31 seconds into the second period on Peter Taglianetti's wrist shot. Fuhr got a glove on it, but couldn't hang on. Rob DiMaio had one of the assists on the goal, making him the only Lightning player to have a point in all five games.
Toronto got its first two goals by NHL veterans Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark.
Lightning goaltender Wendell Young complained to referee Dan Marouelli that on Clark's goal, the puck went off Clark's skate (which would have disallowed the goal) and not his stick. But his complaint was to no avail. It was Clark's first goal in four regular-season and five preseason games this season. He had 19 goals in 43 games last season.