Steven Stamkos, the NHL’s leading scorer with 13 goals and 24 points, scored twice including once on the power play, Ellis made 28 saves on as many shots to earn his 12th career shutout, and the Lightning snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The victory was Ellis’ second whitewash in just over a week, following a 23-save effort in a 3-0 win at Phoenix on Oct. 30.
“When you come back from a long road trip, a lot of guys are tired, but I thought we dug deep and showed a lot of character,” Ellis said.
The Lightning won for just the first time in their last four, rebounding from a disappointing nine-day, four-game road trip on the West coast on which they went 1-2-1.
Still, Head Coach Guy Boucher couldn’t help but recognize the importance of the victory.
“It was huge,” Boucher said. “As you see, our guys took it very seriously.”
Tampa Bay moved to 4-1-1 at home to remain as just one of five NHL teams with a single regulation loss in its home arena. Toronto lost its sixth straight, including its ninth out of the last 10.
“I don’t understand why it’s not happening for us,” Toronto goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “It is a tough league to win in, especially on the road.”
The Lightning proved that beginning in the first period.
Tampa Bay scored three times in the opening frame, getting the first of two on the night from Stamkos and additional tallies from Nate Thompson and Dominic Moore.
“It was a great start that really set the tone for the whole game,” Stamkos said.
Thompson put Tampa Bay out to an early 2-0 lead when he sent a rebound past Giguere. The Lightning forward found himself in position when Mike Lundin’s slap shot ricocheted off the post before bouncing off Giguere’s back and finding Thompson’s stick in the crease. The goal came just 29 seconds after Stamkos opened scoring with the man advantage at 11:10, boosting a power play that came in 7-for-28 at home, good for the NHL’s second-best mark.
Moore made it 3-0 with a tip-in just before the first horn. Stamkos added his second of the night at 5:46 in the third after chipping in a rebound off a slap shot from Mattias Ohlund.
The 2008 first overall draft pick has six goals and 13 points in nine games overall against Toronto. The center has a point in 12 of Tampa Bay's 14 games this season.
Tampa Bay will travel back on the road to take on the Washington Capitals Thursday.
“That is why it’s so important to win these home games,” Stamkos added. “Because it is so tough to win on the road in this league. This was big win for us and really helped us get our confidence back.”
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