Penalty count hits Leafs hard as Lightning strike back

Toronto's penalty kill, so impressive in Game 1, came undone against Tampa in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup playoff series.

Video Transcript

- Got to stop taking penalties, man. I'm not going to sit and say that the refs cost us the game, because there's only so much you can do. NHL refs have been NHL refs since the beginning of time. We are always going to complaint about them.

In game one, it seemed like we were at a point where it's like, oh, wow, they're actually going to start calling things and not just saying, eh, it's just the playoffs, we're going to let this go. But in this, game things kind of went off the rails a little bit. There were calls that were being made on the Leafs, OK. And there are calls that were not being made on Tampa, not OK. Kind of frustrating, actually.

There's a span of two interference calls in five minutes that weren't called. Ilya McCabe literally got pinned against the Leafs' net, so much so that it lifted off it from the gear from the ice, nothing. Puck was nowhere to be found. Blatant interference, nothing called there.

So that's frustrating, but that's the playoffs sometimes. You're not always going to have referees that are going to call everything. And you have to deal with that. So I don't want to sit here and say, oh, the refs cost us the game. They definitely didn't help. And at the same time, we do have to go into that idea that Tampa will get their opportunities to score on the power play.

I think the big difference is that we didn't see too many shorthanded rushes and offensive opportunities that we saw in game one. I think there was only one in the third period. And again, the TJ Brodie and Kerfoot connection on their goal as well. That's what we need to see more of. And that really overwhelmed Tampa.

It took them out. It took them out of the game, took them out of their head space. It really frustrated them. So if the Leafs can do more of that in games three and four and five or however long the series goes, I think that will be very key.

It'll be very important to throw Tampa's offensive weapons out of whack, especially Kucherov. When Kucherov is frustrated, Kucherov doesn't do Kucherov things. And him getting that goal, I think, is a huge weight off of his shoulders. Same thing for Brayden Point.

So you know they're going to start to contribute and create more offensively as the series goes on. So you have to have the penalty kill or the pressure kill, as Sheldon Keefe likes to call it. You have to have that more honed in and more secure.

And I think we gave Tampa way too many opportunities to score on their chances. If the Leafs are going to push back and kind of do those after-the-whistle shenanigans and stuff, sometimes they'll get called for it, other times they won't.

Yes, we want that consistency, but we're just not going to get it, we're not. And I've just come to accept that, as frustrating as it is. So because of that, if we're going to engage in those shenanigans, then we have to be prepared to kill those penalties off.

It's tough for Simmons, who takes two penalties in that similar window and has to watch a goal go in every single time each time he's in the box. So that needs to be improved.

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