1 2 3 T
Toronto Maple Leafs TOR 1 1 0 2
28 SHOTS 26
18 HITS 20
4 PIM 4
0/2 PP 0/2

Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 2

Wednesday, 04.24.2013 / 10:40 PM

The Tampa Bay Lightning got back on the winning track Wednesday night.

Its stars even padded their stats in the ranks among league leaders in the process.

Martin St. Louis recorded his seventh career hat trick, Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Radko Gudas also scored to help the Bolts defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“We played well tonight,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “We played the whole 200 feet of the ice tonight. It was fun to watch.”

The win snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game losing streak, while also preventing the Maple Leafs from sweeping the three-game season series from the Lightning.

Nate Thompson added two assists in the victory. Ben Bishop made 26 saves.

After Phil Kessel opened the game’s scoring at 17:03 of the first, Stamkos’ 29th of the season tied it in the second period after he took a long stretch pass from Thompson, skated in with speed, and roofed a backhand underneath the crossbar despite being brought down in the process by a Maple Leafs defender.

The goal brought the Lightning forward to within two of league-leader Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in that category, while also tying him with St. Louis for second place in the NHL points lead behind Sidney Crosby.

Tampa Bay then took its first lead of the game later on in the period, as Thompson corralled a loose puck and found St. Louis, who put the Bolts up 2-1 with a quick wrist shot past James Reimer, who turned back 21 of 25 shots on the night.

From there, the race between the pair of Bolts teammates was on.

Joffrey Lupul knotted things up at pair of goals apiece with only 23 seconds remaining in the middle frame, but Stamkos earned an assist on Gudas’ goal early on in the third that not only put Tampa Bay up 3-2, but created a three-way tie for the NHL points lead between St. Louis, Stamkos and Crosby, each with 56.

St. Louis’ remaining two goals in the final 6:52 though, including an empty-netter that capped the scoring, pushed St. Louis into sole possession atop the league lead with 58 points.

“Honestly, I just try to play the right way, finish the year strong and see where it takes me,” St. Louis said. “More importantly it was a big win for our team. I thought we started well and played good, and we got better as the game went on.”

The Maple Leafs, despite securing a playoff berth in their most recent game on Saturday, have now lost three of the past four.

Toronto, however, did have its fair share of chances early, firing two shots on Bishop in the first period, each of which rang off the iron to keep things scoreless.

Toronto then had even more chances to capitalize on the lead early on at the start of the second, but couldn’t convert on back-to-back power play opportunities.

“We gave up too many chances,” Maple Leafs forward Clarke MacArthur said. “We have a lot of firepower, but it’s just not our style to give up so many odd-man rushes. We’re going to have to clean that up.”

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