Game 70: Toronto Maple Leafs versus Tampa Bay Lightning

The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Tonight, we witnessed the ugly, evil twin of Tuesday's victory over the Boston Bruins.

This time, it was the opposition who jumped out in front early and held control throughout the entire game.

"We knew every time we play them, we set ourselves up shorthanded early. We tried to stay out of the box best we could but we ended up taking a couple calls early on and they cashed in." - Ryan Malone

"When you get behind by a couple of goals, it's tough. But there's still time and you've got to find a way to turn it around." - Tom Pyatt

The Lightning found themselves shorthanded a mere seven seconds into the game when Brian Lee was called for interference. A minute later, John-Michael Liles scored on the powerplay with assists from Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel.

The score was 1-0 Toronto going into the first intermission. At the 3:27 mark of the second period, Joey Crabb doubled the lead with helpers from Matthew Lombardi and Tim Connolly.

Despite being down 2-0 thanks to the solid play of Toronto netminder James Reimer, the turning point came later in the period. Grabvoski was called for holding at 10:47. A little more than a minute later, that penalty was negated by an "abusive language" call assessed to the Lightning bench. With both teams at even strength, Jake Gardiner, assisted by Lombardi, extended the lead. At that point, starting goaltender Dustin Tokarski, who had stopped seven of the 10 shots he'd faced, was replaced by Dwayne Roloson.

"We had to do something." - Lightning head coach Guy Boucher

Roloson would go on to stop all 18 shots that came his way. The period ended with Toronto on top 3-0.

The Lightning managed to spoil Reimer's shutout bid with 26 seconds left in the game when Martin St. Louis scored his 23rd goal of the season with an assist by Brett Clark. Reimer finished with 34 saves on the night.

The Lightning's season-long homestand continues Saturday night when they face the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

Game notes:

  • This was the Lightning's 35th home game of the year and is the first point all season that they have played as many games at home as on the road.
  • St. Louis's goal was his 14th point (seven goals, seven assists) in the last 14 games.
  • Steven Stamkos racked up eight penalty minutes, his highest total this season and second highest of his career. He was assessed 16 penalty minutes against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 15, 2011.
  • Malone's career-high point-scoring streak was snapped at seven games.
  • As major construction is finishing up around the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the new ticket office and merchandise store opened for the first time today.
  • The Lightning honored Gary Wishnatzki as a Lightning Community Hero during the first period of tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wishnatzki, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Migrant farmworkers in America often endure poverty, turmoil and exploitation. Wishnatzki, owner of Wishnatzki Farms, has helped them gain an education instead. In the 1990s, Wishnatzki started a Florida Strawberry Growers Association scholarship fund that has helped 21 children of migrants attend the University of South Florida. In 2006, he and his wife, Therese, founded Wishnatzki Family Migrant Scholars, an endowment of $343,082 that will perpetually support migrant children pursuing graduate degrees. To augment those funds, Wishnatzki also started an annual tennis tournament in Tampa. In 2009, he added a new beneficiary, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. Wishnatzki embraced RCMA’s efforts to build a middle school next to its acclaimed charter school, RCMA Wimauma Academy, in south Hillsborough County. Some 99% of the students will be low-income Hispanics. Today, he is the largest contributor to the construction fund. Wishnatzki’s tennis tournament is adding $80,000 a year.