TORONTO (AP)Auston Matthews’s goal in the second period proved to be the winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Michael Bunting, who had his 100th NHL point, Pierre Engvall and William Nylander also scored for Toronto. Matt Murray made 18 saves. Engvall and Nylander, who added assists, scored into an empty net late.
”Important game,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said. ”We were a little tentative early there in that third, but then we found our legs.”
Vladislav Namestnikov scored for Tampa Bay, which had its five-game winning streak halted. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 36 shots for the Lightning, who lost in regulation for just the fourth time in their last 17 games (13-4-0).
”I don’t know what part of the game they reinvented that had us perform like that,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. ”But note to self, don’t come to Toronto three days before the game.
”That was painfully evident, because we did not show up tonight.”
The Maple Leafs were coming off regulation road defeats to the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals after collecting at least a point in 15 straight games (12-0-3), one short of the franchise record.
This was a matchup of a first-round playoff series last spring when Toronto led the Lightning 3-2 before Tampa won Game 6 in double overtime at home and eventually took the series. The two-time defending champion Lightning reached their third straight Stanley Cup Final before falling to the Colorado Avalanche.
Toronto, which lost 4-3 in OT in Tampa on Dec. 3, opened Tuesday’s scoring at 16:45 of the first, when Bunting took a pass from William Nylander and fired past Vasilevskiy’s blocker for his eighth goal of the season.
Matthews got the better of a screened Vasilevskiy 61 seconds into the middle period and scored with a high shot on a power play.
The Maple Leafs outshot Tampa 29-8 through two periods.
Namestnikov scored off his own rebound for his second of the season at 4:09.
Murray and the Maple Leafs held on late as the Lightning pressed. But, Engvall iced it into an empty net for his sixth of the season and Nylander added an empty-netter with 32 seconds left for his 19th goal of the season.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
The Leafs announced before puck drop that Vittorio Panza, the grandfather of defenseman Victor Mete, was one of five people killed in a shooting in Vaughan, Ontario, during the weekend.
Panza’s partner was also fatally shot.
Toronto and Tampa Bay observed a moment of silence before the game for the victims.
Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin (neck) left in the second period after assisting on Matthews’ goal. He didn’t return.
”More precautionary than anything,” Keefe said. ”Need some time for things to settle to know exactly what’s happening and what his status might be.”
STAMMER APPROACHING 500
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is three goals short of 500 for his career. The 32-year-old, who was drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in the 2008 draft, is looking to become the 47th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.
Tampa Bay: At Detroit on Wednesday in the third game of a four-game trip.
Toronto: Host Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
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