By Dory LeBlanc
Just over a week ago, the Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2 at the Air Canada Centre, Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Toronto came for more.
Fresh off the news that Ondrej Palat was named the NHL's Rookie of the Month, Steven Stamkos was not cleared to play, and Martin St. Louis would replace Stamkos on Team Canada for the Sochi Winter Games, the Lightning were defeated by the Maple Leafs 4-1.
After 15 scoreless minutes, the Lightning led in shots on goal 6-1, but in the final 5:00, the Maples Leafs picked up momentum after Radko Gudas was called for interference, giving Toronto the game's first power play and the Leafs jumped out to a 12-9 lead in SOG.
Just about eight minutes into the second period, the Maple Leafs opened the scoring when Mason Raymond got behind Mark Barberio and Alex Killorn and beat Ben Bishop with a backhander that went top shelf.
When the third period started, Bishop, who has played brilliantly up until that point was out and Cedrick Desjardins, called up to replace the injured Anders Lindback, was in net. Team personnel announced Bishop's return was doubtful after the netminder suffered an upper body injury in the middle frame.
Two minutes into the third period, two Lightning defenders chased the puck in their own zone, leaving Jay McClement wide open to put the puck past Desjardins. Six minutes later, James van Riemsdyk batted in his own rebound to put Toronto up 3-0 with time running out.
The newly-honored rookie Palat got one back for Tampa Bay, beating Jonathan Bernier high for the score.
Shortly after Palat's goal, the team announced another injury, this time a lower body injury to center Vatteri Filppula.
The Leafs managed to get one more goal in before the final buzzer sounded to extend their lead to 4-1.
Following Tyler Bozak's final Toronto goal, a fight broke out behind the Leafs net as J.T. Brown was pushed into Bernier, causing the Maple Leaf players to tangle with a frustrated Lightning group, which ultimately resulted in seven penalties being handed out - but not one to Morgan Rielly, who was the one who pushed Brown into the Toronto netminder.
Despite losing their starting goalie, who is the league's top-5 goaltender in several categories and their second-leading point scorer, the Lightning didn't give up, and kept the margin wide in faceoffs won, beating Toronto in the circles 44-22, but couldn't score beyond the one goal on 34 shots.
First - NONE
Second - 1. TOR Raymond (Kulemin, Rielly) 7:57
Third - 1. TOR McClement (Clarkson, Lupul) 2:19 2. TOR van Riemsdyk (Gunnarsson, Kessel) 8:10 3. TB Palat (St. Louis, Johnson) 10:28
Shootout Tally: N/A
Shots On Goal:
TOR - 36
TB - 34
TOR - (1) NONE; (2) NONE; (3) Gleason - Roughing, Gleason - Roughing, Gleason - MISCONDUCT, Bernier - Roughing
TB - (1) Gudas - Interference; (2) NONE; (3) Desjardins - Leaving the crease, Gudas - MISCONDUCT, Brown - Interference
Next up for the Bolts: The Lightning will host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, February 8th at 7pm. 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 6:30pm.