Smith gets game-winning goal for Maple Leafs

Avon native Ben Smith scored his first goal of the season Tuesday night with his new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo courtesy Maple Leafs.com)

Avon native Ben Smith scored his first goal of the season Tuesday night with his new team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo courtesy Maple Leafs.com)

TORONTO – Avon native Ben Smith is back in the National Hockey League – and back on the East Coast.

Smith is playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a fourth line center. He scored his first goal in nine games with the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Scoring midway through the third period, Smith’s goal was the game-winner in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay. He also had his second assist of the season.

Smith has been with the Maple Leafs for nearly three weeks now after being traded for the second time in a year. San Jose traded Smith, Alex Stalock and a conditional 2018 fourth round pick to Toronto on February 27 for James Reimer and Jeremy Morin.

Slowed by an early-season injury (concussion) that caused him to miss 22 games, Smith played in only six games for San Jose. Healthy for the first time this year, he did score 10 points (8 goals, 2 assists) in 14 games with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate before getting traded to the Maple Leafs.

Smith’s goal against Tampa Bay was his first goal in the NHL in nearly a year – March 29, 2015 in a game against Pittsburgh. It helped make up for a turnover that resulted in the Lightning’s first goal of the game. He was stripped of the puck and the Lightning tied the game at 1-1.

“He’s an honest player and he’s a guy you trust because he does it right each and every night,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock told NHL.com. “He’s a work guy, a common sense guy and he tries hard. He has been excellent for us.”

At 24-34-11, the Maple Leafs are in last place in the Eastern Conference with 13 games remaining in the regular season.

                  G  A   Pts
San Jose   0   0   0          6 games
Toronto      1   2   3          9 games

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