TORONTO – After a four-game home stand the Tampa Bay Lightning returned to the road on Monday night to kick off a pair of back-to-back games. Facing the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season, the Lightning dropped a 6-1 decision at the Air Canada Centre.
Michel Ouellet scored the lone goal for Tampa Bay as Chad Kilger led Toronto with a pair of goals in the contest.
The clubs skated through a scoreless first period as the Lightning out-shot the Maple Leafs, 8-7, through the opening frame.
Midway through the period Paul Ranger put a strong chance on goal, but goaltender Vesa Toskala smothered the puck on the play. After Bryan McCabe blocked a shot by Lecavalier from the right faceoff circle the puck bounced to Vaclav Prospal in front of the net. Ranger jumped into the play for the rebound attempt but was held off the board.
Johan Holmqvist responded for Tampa Bay, covering a rebound shot by Tomas Kaberle at the top of the crease. After cutting into the zone and down the slot, Kaberle dished a pass across to Alexander Steen. The Maple Leafs center put a shot on Holmqvist who denied Kaberle on the follow-up attempt.
At 10:09 of the second period Jason Blake broke the scoreless tie with his sixth goal of the season. From the top of the crease Blake deflected a shot by Kyle Wellwood down and to the left of Holmqvist for the score.
Shortly after the goal Lecavalier looked to tie the game, but fired the puck wide of the net when he was unable to settle a pass by Martin St. Louis. After St. Louis stole the puck from Kaberle deep in the zone, he dished the pass out to Lecavalier at the left hash marks for the shot.
Despite the attempt, Mats Sundin connected on the power play less than three minutes after Blake’s score, building a 2-0 Toronto lead. Gathering the puck off an up-ice pass by Kaberle, Sundin skated in on Holmqvist and popped a back-handed shot into the top corner of the net.
With less than six minutes remaining in the period Nik Antropov redirected a pass by Wellwood before Kilger added his first goal of the night.
After Marc Denis replaced Holmqvist between the pipes, Ouellet scored to put Tampa Bay on the board. Deflecting a Filip Kuba wrist shot from the right point, Ouellet directed the puck to the right stick-side of Toskala for the score. The goal, which came with 59.8 seconds remaining in the second period, was Ouellet’s sixth of the season.
As the Lightning looked to cut the Maple Leafs lead in half early in the third period, Andreas Karlsson fed a pass out to Mike Lundin at the blue line. The Lightning defenseman fired a shot, but Toskala covered the attempt at the top of his crease.
Toronto responded when Matt Stajan scored his eighth goal of the season before Kilger notched his seventh goal to close out the scoring.
The Lightning out-shot the Maple Leafs 11-6 in the final frame but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback. Jason Ward and Jan Hlavac connected for a pair of shots in front of Toskala shortly after Stajan’s goal before Denis made a pad save on a shorthanded breakaway attempt by McCabe.
Although St. Louis put a pair of strong shots on Toskala from the goal line on a late power play opportunity, the Toronto netminder held off Tampa Bay for the win.
The Maple Leafs out-shot the Lightning 29-27 in the contest and scored twice with the man advantage.
Lecavalier was held off the scoresheet in the contest, snapping an 11-game point streak against Toronto. The Lightning center had a total of eight goals and 17 points against the Maple Leafs in his previous 11 match-ups against the club.
Holmqvist posted the decision in the contest, making 18 saves through a little less than 35 minutes of ice time.
The Lightning continue their two-game road trip on Tuesday, December 11 (7:30p.m., Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) against the Montreal Canadiens. The game marks the first meeting between the clubs this season as Tampa Bay closes out their pair of back-to-back games.
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