TAMPA, Fla. – Scoring the game-winning goal and adding two assists, Dan Boyle helped the Tampa Bay Lightning close out a three-game homestand in grand fashion. Hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second and final time this season, the Lightning skated to a 3-2 overtime victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.
In the first night of back-to-back games, Michel Ouellet and Alexander Picard scored for Tampa Bay to snap a three-game Toronto winning streak. All three Lightning goals came with the man-advantage, and goaltender Mike Smith earned his first win with Tampa Bay, stopping 23 shots in the contest.
Early in the contest Vesa Toskala held off Martin St. Louis after the Lightning winger fired a slapshot from the right faceoff circle. The Toronto netminder would later skate to the bench on a delayed call, opening up a man-advantage attempt for his club. After Tomas Kaberle fed a pass to Darcy Tucker, the Maple Leafs winger fired a shot from the point but Smith slid to the edge of his crease to grab the puck.
Within minutes Toskala held on to a shot by St. Louis as Mathieu Darche created a screen in front of the net. Feeding the puck off the right side boards, Vincent Lecavalier found St. Louis open in the slot for a wrist shot attempt.
Off the following faceoff, Ouellet scored his 10th goal of the season to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead.
Sliding a pass from the side boards, Jeff Halpern found Ouellet open at the right faceoff dot. Ouellet snapped a shot to beat Toskala high to the glove side for his second power play goal in consecutive games. With the score, Ouellet also extended his season-high scoring streak to three games.
Posting an assist on the play, Halpern recorded his third point (one goal, two assists) in two games since joining the Lightning at the trade deadline.
Preserving Tampa Bay’s early lead, Smith made a number of strong saves to keep Toronto off the board through the first period. As Alexander Steen skated down the right wing and behind the net, the Maples Leafs center tried to wrap the puck around the left post. Smith followed through to make the save.
Smith later held off a shot by Matt Stajan in the goal mouth after a Jason Blake shot found its way to Tucker behind the net. Tucker made a centering pass to the front of the crease but Stajan was unable to find the back of the net.
Continuing his solid play in the second period, Smith opened the frame with a save against Maple Leafs leading scorer Mats Sundin. As the Toronto captain broke across the blue line for a partial breakaway, Smith remained square to the shot to block the attempt.
|Dan Boyle scores past Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala, defensmen Ian White (7) and Carlo Colaiacovo (8) during overtime in Tampa on Friday. The Lightning won by a score of 3-2. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)|
Midway through the period Jussi Jokinen and Shane O’Brien peppered Toskala with a pair of slapshots from the point. Following up the shot by O’Brien, St. Louis looked to push the rebound to the left of Toskala, but within minutes the Lightning connected for the second power play goal of the night.
With Bryan McCabe in the box serving a delay of game penalty, Dan Boyle fired a slapshot from the point. As the puck rebounded straight off the back boards and to the right of Toskala, Picard jumped up into the play. Scoring his first goal of the season, his first with the Lightning, Picard popped the rebound through the five hole for the score.
Although Tampa Bay skated into the third period with a two-goal lead, Steen and Blake each posted their 12th goals of the season to tie the game and force overtime.
Scoring 27 seconds into the final game, Steen carried the puck around the net before snapping a backhanded shot past Smith. With the 6’5” Sundin creating a screen at the edge of the crease, the shot found its way into the top right corner of the net.
Minutes later Smith made the first of three big glove saves in the period, denying Steen on a wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle. Smith layer denied Kyle Wellwood on an attempt as the Toronto center rushed down the right wing. As Wellwood cut to the net he moved to the backhand, but Smith was there to make the glove save.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Stajan won a draw back to McCabe at the left point. McCabe passed the puck across the blue line to Carlo Colaiacovo who one-timed a shot on goal. Smith stretched across his crease, reaching out to grab the puck.
Despite the save, Blake scored at 11:29 of the third to tie the game at two. Skating hard down the left wing after taking a go-ahead pass from Ian White, Blake snapped a shot past Smith for his 12th goal of the season.
As Tampa Bay worked to reclaim their lead with a little more than four minutes remaining in the game, Lecavalier streaked down the right side to fire a shot from the circle. Despite beating Toskala to the stick side, Lecavalier’s shot rang off the left post and into the fallen netminder.
With the game tied at two, the Lightning began a power play 30 seconds into overtime after Kubina was called for a holding the stick minor. Connecting at 2:02 of the extra session, Boyle notched his fourth goal of the season.
After St. Louis fed a pass through the goal mouth, Lecavalier redirected the puck back to Boyle at the bottom of the slot. Boyle’s initial shot was blocked by a Toronto defenseman, but the Tampa Bay blueliner collected his own rebound to fire the puck over the sprawled netminder.
Since returning to the lineup on January 24, Boyle has recorded four multi-point games for Tampa Bay.
With 23 saves in the contest, Smith posted his first Lightning win. Tampa Bay out-shot Toronto 27-25, and held the club scoreless through two power plays.
Closing out a set of back-to-back games, the Lightning will skate into Raleigh, North Carolina for a one-game trip against the Carolina Hurricanes. The puck will drop at 7:00 p.m. (Sun Sports, 620 WDAE) on Saturday, March 1 as the teams meet for the fifth of eight meetings in the season series.
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