The Maple Leafs got back into rhythm after a horrible week in California. A 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning ended their three game losing streak. This is the second straight win over the Lightning this season in what could be a potential playoff match-up.

Big Impact

Morgan Rielly made his return to the line-up on Tuesday night. Reilly played 21:47 in his first action since January. He made an intimidate impact as the Leafs defense looked solid. In the first period especially, they were able to hold Tampa’s high powered offence to only 6 shots on goal. Not only was Reilly able to give them a boost on the back-end, he also was effective on offense being apart of many great rushes up ice.

Tampa however did finish the game with 33 shots. For the most part the defense was able to take away any second chances and keeping them to the outside. Tampa did have some good chances but when called upon Andersen made some very big saves. Andersen has looked much more solid as of late. In his last five games he has gone 4-0-1 with one shut-out. These are impressive numbers and with only 12 games remaining, the Leafs will need more of that from Andersen.

Competing With The Best

After only scoring three goals on their California road trip, the Leafs offense looked much stronger against the Lightning. The Leafs came out firing, as they outshot them 17-6 in the first. If it were not for Lightning goalie Vasilevskiy, this game would have ended with a much bigger score line. Nylander continued his career year as he scored his 31st goal and Matthews netted his 47th of the year as he looks to become only the sixth player in Leafs history to score 50 goals in the season. Both goals came off the power-play which had been horrible as of late.

The game also marked the 300th of Mitch Marner’s career. Marner would finish as the games first star as he recorded two assists on the night. He now has 51 assist on the season, which is the second straight season he has accomplished the feat.

Playoff Implications 

With the win the Leafs stretched their lead over the Panthers back to three points. The Panthers however still do have a game in hand. Toronto now has 81 points, tying them with both Columbus and Carolina for the final two wild card spots. This is very important for the Leafs because they won’t have to just rely on playing for the final spot in the Atlantic. The chance to finish in the wild card is still a possibility also.

The Leafs will return to action on Thursday as they host the Nashville Predators. Coming off a win in Montreal, Nashville has been hot of late as they have successfully turned their season around and are pushing for a playoff spot as well.