Maple Leafs thrilled to top Lightning in 'measuring-stick game'

Craig Hagerman
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

If the Toronto Maple Leafs do indeed meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason, they'll take solace in knowing they can hang with the best team in the league.

The Maple Leafs beat the Lightning 4-3 on Monday night in a contest forward Nazem Kadri deemed a "measuring-stick game" earlier in the day, according to TSN's Mark Masters.

After getting blanked by the Lightning last month, the Maple Leafs entered Monday having won three straight games and seven of their last eight. And the timing couldn't have been better for the club - who has been playing some of its best hockey of the season - to test its mettle against the No. 1-ranked team in the standings.

"Of course, you want to play your best against the best teams," goalie Frederik Andersen said postgame. "These are fun games to be a part of and obviously it's great coming out with two points."

As for Auston Matthews - who finished the night with three assists - Monday felt like just another game since he expects his club to compete with any opponent.

"It's just another win," said Matthews. "We expect to win every night, doesn't matter who you play. Obviously, when you play the best team in the league you've got to bring your A-game, so I thought we played well tonight."

With the win on Monday the Maple Leafs now sit six points back of the Lightning - who have two games in-hand on Toronto. Meanwhile, the season series sits tied at one game apiece with two more head-to-head battles before the season is out.