Two days prior to visiting the Lightning, the Maple Leafs were badly outplayed in front of their dads who joined the team on their two-game trip to Florida. The Florida Panthers embarrassed Toronto during a 4-1 win handing the Maple Leafs an awful start to their road trip.
Toronto’s performance against the Panthers was so bad it made Nazem Kadri’s dad take off the Maple Leafs jersey he was wearing that all the fathers had on to support the club and their sons during the contest. Thankfully, Toronto was able to rebound in Tampa Bay to close out the mini-road trip despite Kadri’s father choosing not to wear a jersey for a second time while the rest of the fathers did.
The Maple Leafs’ effort was better against the Lightning then it was against the Panthers although Toronto’s start to both games was nearly identical. It took Toronto nearly half the first period before recording their first shot on net but unlike the contest against Florida, the Maple Leafs weren’t down two goals by the time they starting putting the puck on net.
Although the loss against Florida was costly, the win against Tampa Bay was more significant given the Eastern Conference standings. The Maple Leafs are now within one point of the Lightning for second place in the East standings after nearly being behind double-digit points at the start of the New Year.
Despite a missed opportunity against the Panthers, Toronto is gaining the type of momentum every team would like to have heading into the Olympic break by defeating the Lightning twice in the past week and pulling within a point of second place in the Atlantic Division.