Maple Leafs too much for Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have struggled mightily on the road this season. Knowing that, the Toronto Maple Leafs took advantage on Monday night.
Chad Kilger scored twice as the Maple Leafs skated to a convincing 6-1 victory over the visiting Lightning in front of 19,454 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
Tampa Bay is a sparkling 11-3-2 at home, but the team has lost five consecutive road games and owns the NHL's worst road mark at 2-11-1.
"Let's call a spade a spade, it was a good old-fashioned -----kicking," Lightning head coach John Tortorella said.
Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov provided a goal and an assist apiece for the Maple Leafs (13-12-6), winners in five of six games since rumblings surfaced that general manager John Ferguson Jr. or head coach Paul Maurice might be fired if things failed to improve — and fast.
"Sometimes you need an absurd amount of pressure to get things going, so absurd that you think the entire game of hockey will be called off based on the way the Leafs are playing," Maurice said. "It helps put things in perspective."
Jason Blake and Matt Stajan tallied Toronto's other goals, the first four of them coming in a 4:32 span of the second period.
Hal Gill and Kyle Wellwood both contributed two assists in support of Vesa Toskala, who posted 23 saves and earned an assist.
"Vesa has settled down and is playing outstanding," Antropov said. "We're feeding off it."
"The confidence level on this team is high," Wellwood said.
Michel Ouellet had the lone goal for the Lightning (13-14-3).
Johan Holmqvist gave up four goals on 22 shots before being yanked in favour of reserve netminder Marc Denis.
"It was very disappointing," Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier said. "Not the game we wanted to play.
"We played well in the first period. But after that, we couldn't keep the play in their zone."
Brad Richards led all skaters with three shots in a scoreless first period before departing with an apparent left leg injury.
Richards and Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle lost their footing and crashed into the corner boards at 7:32 of the second period, with the Lightning forward taking the brunt of the blow.
"He is a big part of our team," Lecavalier said. "Any time you lose a key player and a leader, it is definitely tough."
Blake strikes first
Blake opened the scoring 10:09 into the contest, tipping Wellwood's slapshot from the point for his fifth goal of the season.
Toronto went ahead 2-0 when Kaberle sprung Sundin on a partial breakaway and he fooled Holmqvist with a backhand shot for his 15th at the 12:32 mark.
Wellwood then took a pass from Sundin and chipped the puck through the crease to Antropov, who tucked it in the open side for his 15th.
Thirty-four seconds later, Kilger collected the puck from Pavel Kubina at the point, spun in the slot and scored his sixth on a screen shot that ended Holmqvist's evening.
Ouellet's sixth trimmed it to 4-1 with one minute left in the period, but Stajan finished off a pretty 2-on-1 break with Boyd Devereaux for his eighth at 5:15 of the second.
Kilger capped the scoring with 7:48 remaining, stepping out of the penalty box in time to convert Antropov's centring pass on a 3-on-1 break, giving him two goals in the game and eight on the season.
With files from the Canadian Press