The Tampa Bay Lightning returned home Tuesday night, and with that, to the same early-season form that had them off to a spectacular start to the season.
Alex Killorn’s goal at 2:49 of the third period stood up as the game-winner, and Anders Lindback turned aside 23 of 25 shots faced to help the Lightning to a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Matt Carle also had goals for Tampa Bay, which with 17 points, pulled into a first-place tie with the Carolina Hurricanes at the top of the Southeast Division standings.
Benoit Pouliot also added three assists in the win.
“We keep talking about the process,” Lightning head coach Guy Boucher said. “It’s always about how we are going to continue progressing. We’ve been doing so many good things, we knew it was eventually going to pay off.”
The victory was Tampa Bay’s second straight, and just the team’s first at home since earning an 8-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets on February 1.
Toronto, which had won six of its past seven, had a two-game win streak of its own come to a halt.
“I don’t know if we demonstrated enough determination or desperation until the last seven minutes of the game,” Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said. “It seems like we were a flat group for a good period of the game.”
Mikhail Grabovski and James van Riemsdyk had the only goals for Toronto, which dropped to 10-7-0 on the season and trails the first-place Montreal Canadiens by three points in the Northeast Division.
Ben Scrivens, coming off back-to-back shutouts, allowed four goals on just 13 shots and was pulled in favor of Jussi Rynnas after Carle’s slap shot from the top of the right circle made it 4-1 at 6:58 of the final period while on the power play.
van Riemsdyk then capped the scoring with a late goal at 16:08 of the third, but it proved to be too little too late.
“Obviously [my performance] wasn’t good enough to win the game,” Scrivens said. “It seems like I was getting some fortunate bounces in the last couple games, but today they bounced the other way.”
Lecavalier opened the scoring midway through the first after receiving a pass from Pouliot at the side of the net and wristing one past Scrivens for a 1-0 Lightning lead.
Grabovski tied it after cleaning up a rebound to the side of Lindback and zipping a wrist shot past the netminder to make it 1-1 just before the opening period came to a close.
Tampa Bay reclaimed its lead at 4:56 of the second when Stamkos’ 10th of the year made it 2-1.
Killorn then padded the cushion to open the third, as his shot from the point trickled through Scrivens’ pads for a two-goal lead.
With Toronto pressing to reduce the Lightning deficit late in the game, frustrations began to boil over as two fights broke out in the game’s final nine minutes.
In total, Toronto racked up 47 minutes in penalties on the night, compared to Tampa Bay’s 21.
“We had a pretty solid game,” Lecavalier said. “We played hard and overall had a really good game, and they played last night, so we took advantage of that.”
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