Benoit Pouliot had three assists, a hot goaltender got pulled, and things got chippy in the end — but most importantly, the Tampa Bay Lightning came away with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night in Tampa Bay for their second consecutive win.
Even though the score didn't show it to be the case, the Lightning seemed to control the first peiod. Zone entries and exits were much cleaner than on the recent six-game skid, and the Bolts seemed to possess the puck in the Leafs' end for a good portion of the first period, despite firing only 4 shots on net in the period.
Captain Vincent Lecavalier continued his early season success with a first period goal to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead. After Toronto turned the puck over, Lecavalier settled it down near the left circle and fired it over goaltender Ben Scrivens' shoulder.
It marked the first goal against Scrivens in nearly 150 minutes of game time and the first 1-0 lead for the Lightning since February 2nd against the New York Rangers.
Later in the first period a great shift by Tom Pyatt and Alex Killorn was erased when Nikolai Kulemin fired a puck on net in transition that Bolts goaltender Anders Lindback mishandled with his glove. The loose puck in front was put home by Mikhail Grabovski. That sent the game into the first intermission tied up 1-1.
Early in the second period, a great shift by Benoit Pouliot, Cory Conacher, and Steven Stamkos restored a one goal lead for the Lightning. Pouliot and Conacher outworked the Leafs defense behind the net and eventually found Stamkos in front for the goal, Stamkos' 10th of the year which gave the Bolts a 2-1 lead.
With very little action either way after the Stamkos goal, the Bolts weathered a second period storm from the Maple Leafs and entered the second intermission still nursing the 2-1 lead.
Less than five minutes into the third period, a pair of 2-on-1 rushes for each squad opened play up a bit. With the Leafs hemmed in their own zone, defenseman Korbinian Holzer stopped play behind his own net as the Lightning backed off their forecheck. He then misfired a pass off the wall that a rushing Alex Killorn intercepted and fired on net for a 3-1 lead, as his soft wrister trickled through Scrivens.
That shot certainly makes an argument for the Bolts to shoot the puck more often. They entered play tonight 24th in the league in shots per game, in part due to poor puck possession but also as a result of over-passing and a reluctance to shoot, particularly on the power play.
Killorn's goal will hopefully serve as a reminder moving forward that shots on goal are always a good thing.
Shortly after Killorn made it 3-1, Lightning rookie Richard Panik drew a penalty and sent the Bolts on the power play where Matt Carle ended a mini-drought with the man advantage as he scored on a wrister from the point that made it 4-1 and ended previously red-hot goaltender Ben Scrivens' night. Recent AHL call-up Jussi Rynnas came in to relieve Scrivens.
Pouliot also picked up his 3rd assist of the night on Carle's goal, giving him 13 points in 15 games and making Lightning GM Steve Yzerman look even smarter for acquiring him from the Boston Bruins during the offseason for just a 5th round pick and Michael Ouelett.
After Scrivens was pulled, the clearly frustrated Leafs turned to more physical play. Nazem Kadri got into a brief scrap with Victor Hedman, and Mark Fraser danced with Keith Aulie.
The fights created a power play and some momentum for the Leafs, who scored after James van Riemsdyk tipped a Phil Kessel wrister off a feed from Tyler Bozak. Anders Lindback had little chance on that shot as van Riemsdyk set a great screen in front, and Lindback didn't appear to ever see the shot.
The Flyers tried to pull their goalie down two goals, but it was to no avail. The Flyers would not score even with an empty net, and the Lightning hung on to win 4-2.
The Lightning will next face the Boston Bruins in Tampa on Thursday.
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