Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 6th 2023


The Toronto Maple Leafs will be out to improve their defense and end a four-game losing streak when they meet the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night.

The Maple Leafs opened a five-game homestand with a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday despite a hat trick by Auston Matthews. Mitchell Marner added a goal and three assists.

The Lightning, meanwhile, did not waste a hat trick by Brayden Point Saturday when they defeated the host Ottawa Senators 6-4. Nikita Kucherov added a goal and four assists.

The Sabres, who had lost 5-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers at home on Friday, had more energy than Toronto.

“I felt like we beat ourselves,” Toronto defenseman Mark Giordano said. “Pretty disappointing. We have to find a way to keep pucks out of our net. You give up five or six a night, you’re going to lose most games.”

Defense and a lack of scoring depth have been problems for the Maple Leafs, who were without Jake McCabe (groin) and Timothy Liljegren (ankle) on Saturday.

Defenseman Max Lajoie, who was called up from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, played only 4:54.

“To me there were two different stories in the game,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “In the first and second periods we made mistakes (Buffalo) countered on, which is something they do probably better than any team in the NHL.

“The third period was the most exhausted I’ve seen a corps of defensemen in my time in this league. We couldn’t get going, couldn’t make a pass.”

Matthews recorded his 10th career hat trick. Marner had his 14th career game with four or more points and William Nylander had an assist to stretch his points streak to 11 games.

The supporting cast, however, has struggled. Newcomers Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi have been duds so far.

“I’m concerned, for sure,” Keefe said. “(Matthew) Knies is new to the league and hasn’t found his stride. (David) Kampf is going to give you everything he has, but (offense) is not his primary thing. Domi is a guy we expect more out of, some contribution offensively.”

The Lightning have split the first two games of their four-game road trip. They lost the opener on Thursday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I think (the win in Ottawa) came from a better effort,” Point said. “I really liked our compete, and it resulted in a win, so that’s something we’ve got to learn and take moving forward, that compete.”

It was “a game of responses,” in the eyes of Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

“(The Senators) get the first one, and we came back and tied it, and I thought that was big,” Cooper said. “We come out in the second and score early. Then, when the game got a little hectic (in the third), Brady (Tkachuk) scored (to make it 5-3), and we scored right after that. I thought that was big for us.

“Every time there was a little bit of adversity for us, we responded. Hence, we pulled it out.”

–Field Level Media

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