The good news for the Leafs and their fans is- the team got a point and a boost from the arrival of Phil Kessel, who made his debut for them Tuesday night against visiting Tampa Bay.
The bad news is- even though they outplayed Tampa, they still lost. Thanks to an inordinate amount of power play opportunities (eight) they finally cashed in with the man advantage when defenseman Ian White got a flukey goal off of standout Antero Nittymaki when he banked a pass off of Lightning d-man Matt Walker's skate. Every other shot that the former Flyer netminder saw, he stopped, including 10 from Kessel. Without the gifts of some real ticky-tack calls that went their way, the Leafs would not have even gotten the point, even though they played much better as a team than Tampa did.
Ryan Malone put the puck past "the Monster" Jonas Gustavsson to break the 1-1 tie (with Vinny Lecavalier scoring the Tampa goal) and give his team their first win on the road. The victory kept the Leafs still looking for their first home win.
As has been the case in all of Toronto's games save one this year, the opponent scored first after Lecavalier put home a rebound in the high slot off a shot from Mattias Ohlund, but the Leafs pulled even with about 10 minutes to go in the third.
Kessel played very well, and if he shows up every night like that, he's going to score a lot of goals for Toronto. He did get rocked in the first period on a hit by Ohlund that cut his lip, but he bounced back and showed no ill effects. Kudos to him.
The point gained gives Toronto seven points (1-7-5), which ties them with Carolina, but they stay in last place by virtue of having one fewer win. That said, the Leafs won't be in last place for long given the way they've played of late.
It was Gustavsson's best game to date in my opinion as he showed very good lateral movement, making several stops on bang-bang cross-ice shots, but he probably should have had that last shot by Malone.