By Dory LeBlanc
Tampa Bay stopped their losing streak at two and split the season series Tuesday night after defeating Toronto in front of a packed house at the Forum.
Steven Stamkos, who has collected 13 goals and 12 assists in his previous 20 games against the Maple Leafs, added another assist in the Bolts' 3-0 victory.
All was not great in Channelside Drive, however, as the Bolts lost star netminder Ben Bishop after what is being officially listed as an "upper body injury." At the 5:43 mark of the opening period, Bishop made a leaping glove save and landed hard on his left side. The Lightning goalie looked to be in a considerable amount of pain as the Tampa Bay trainer tended to him on the ice and favored his left arm as he was helped to the locker room by teammates and trainers.
Anders Lindback, who last played on March 22nd against Pittsburgh, entered the game to replace Bishop and was nothing short of stellar in Tampa Bay's net. Lindback stopped all 28 shots faced for his first shutout since 2010-11 when he was a member of the Nashville Predators and improved to 6-12-2 on the current campaign.
The Lightning opened the scoring 29:19 into the contest when the NHL's March Rookie of the Month, Ondrej Palat, ripped shot over James Reimer's shoulder for his 21st goal of the season.
15:38 into the middle frame, Troy Bodie headed to the penalty box for a 2:00 tripping penalty, which he served seven seconds of before Palat scored his second of the night. Assisting on both of Palat's goal was defenseman Victor Hedman, who notched his 39th and 40th assists on the season with the helpers.
The Swede then added an empty netter with 12.6 to go in regulation to extend the Lightning's lead to 3-0 and ensure Tampa Bay would get the two points on the night.
The Bolts remain two points behind the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division and have three games left in the regular season to capture home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
First Period -
Second Period -
1. TB - Palat (Hedman, Gudas) 9:19
2. TB - Palat (Stamkos, Hedman) 15:45
Third Period -
1. TB - EN - Hedman (Unassisted) 19:47
Shootout Tally: N/A
Shots On Goal:
TOR - 28
TB - 34
TOR - (1) None; (2) Bodie - Tripping; (3) None
TB - (1) Carle - Tripping, Sustr - High-Sticking; (2) Killorn - Hooking; (3) None
Next up for the Bolts: Tampa Bay plays their fifth of six home games Thursday, April 10th at 7:30 pm against the Philadelphia Flyers, headlined by former Bolt Vinny Lecavalier. The Flyers are flirting with the final playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division with Columbus right on their heels. You can catch all of the action on sister station 970 WFLA with Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Dave Mishkin giving the call with coverage beginning at 7:00 pm.