Bolts can’t get offense going vs. Maple Leafs
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — James Reimer did not look like a goaltender who won for the first time in a month.
Reimer made 34 saves, taking a shutout into the final minute, and the Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a five-game skid with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
“He was awesome,” Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner said.
Reimer had lost all five of his previous decisions since beating Edmonton on Feb. 15.
“It feels great,” Reimer said. “The team played really well. It was just hard-nose hockey.”
Reimer stopped a number of good scoring chances, including shots by Brett Connolly, Martin St. Louis and Nate Thompson during the first. The goalie also turned aside two in-close shots by league goals leader Steven Stamkos in the second.
St. Louis spoiled Reimer’s shutout bid with 26 seconds left.
John-Michael Liles, Joey Crabb and Gardiner scored for the Maple Leafs, who are 3-13-2 in their last 18 games. Matthew Lombardi had two assists.
Tampa Bay dropped to 1-2 in its seven-game homestand. The Lightning, 11th in the Eastern Conference, trail eighth-place Washington by seven points.
“They’re all frustrating when you don’t get the job done,” Tampa Bay left wing Ryan Malone said.
Toronto has won the first three games of the season series, outscoring the Lightning 17-5. The Maple Leafs moved within eight points of the Capitals.
“Anytime you’re losing it’s never fun,” Gardiner said. “We’re just trying to stay positive. It really feels good to get a win here. It will boost us and hopefully we can keep going.”
Stamkos and Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf both were given unsportsmanlike conduct penalties late in the second. Stamkos received an additional high-sticking penalty, which occurred as officials were attempting to get the pair to their respective benches.
Phaneuf and Stamkos tangled again with 1:22 to go in the third after the Toronto defenseman checked St. Louis into the boards. Phaneuf got 4 minutes for roughing, while Stamkos got a 2-minute roughing penalty.
After Tampa Bay defenseman Brian Lee took an interference penalty 7 seconds into the game, Liles put the Maple Leafs up 1-0 from the slot off a nifty pass by Mikhail Grabovski at 1:09.
Crabb was left alone in the left circle and beat rookie Dustin Tokarski as Toronto went ahead 2-0 at 3:27 of the second.
After Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for abusive language that negated a power play, Gardiner made it 3-0 with 7:32 left in the second. Tokarski was pulled after the goal and replaced by Dwayne Roloson.
Boucher felt the officials missed an infraction on Stamkos that would have given Tampa Bay a two-man advantage for about a minute.
“Just watch the replay,” Boucher said. “I spoke my mind. To me it’s a clear penalty. It’s an easy one to make. It should have been called. It could have turned the game around.”
Stamkos wound up with four minor penalties and had six shots on goal.
NOTES: Toronto LW Nikolai Kulemin didn’t play due to a broken finger and could be sidelined three weeks. … Malone had his seven-game point streak end. … Liles’ goal was his 300th NHL point. … St. Louis’s goal was his first in eight games. … Crabb stopped a personal 20-game goal drought.