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Leafs Play Spoilers, Down The Lightning

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


TORONTO (CP) - Nazem Kadri had a goal and assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their cameo role as spoilers, defeating the Tampa Bay Lighting 3-1 Tuesday.

One day after securing a playoff berth with an emotional win in Montreal, the slumming Lightning (47-24-7) found themselves down 2-0 after a sluggish spell midway through the first period.

Kadri's goal at 8:53 marked the first time the Maple Leafs (29-42-6) had the lead in a game in 541:08 of action.

David Booth and Morgan Rielly also scored for Toronto, which got a fine 40-save performance from goalie James Reimer in winning its second straight before 18,857 at the Air Canada Centre.

Ryan Callahan scored for Tampa, which has lost three of four on its current road trip. The Lightning pulled their goalie with more than three minutes remaining and pressed hard.

The Leafs had their chances in a wide-open second period but failed to add to a 2-1 lead. Toronto, which had not led going into the third period since March 9, then scored 24 seconds into the third via a beautiful Rielly wrist shot — his eighth of the season.

Toronto's call-ups continued to tick off firsts. Defenceman T.J. Brennan, with an assist, recorded his first point as a Leaf. And forward Sam Carrick had his first NHL fight, a spirited first-period tilt with J.T. Brown.

Tampa Bay confirmed its playoff presence with a 5-3 win Monday, completing a five-game sweep of the Habs while setting a franchise record for wins (47). Only 17 of those victories have come away from home, however.

The Lightning came into the Toronto game with 101 points, one behind Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa still leads the NHL in regulation and overtime wins (45) as well as goals scored (250).

Toronto, meanwhile, improved its ugly 2015 record to 8-28-3.

Tampa was hurting, however. Defenceman Victor Hedman left Monday's game, joining an injury list that already included defencemen Jason Garrison, Andrej Sustr and Braydon Coburn and centre Tyler Johnson.

That meant an NHL debut for Syracuse call-up Slater Koekkoek, a defenceman who played with Rielly for Saskatchewan's Notre Dame Hounds.

Reimer remained in goal, having helped Toronto to a 4-3 overtime win Saturday over Ottawa that snapped a seven-game losing streak. It marked his first back to-back starts since early February.

With Ben Bishop having played Monday, Andrei Vasilevskiy got the Lightning start.

He was beaten midway through the first period on the power play when a Joakim Lindstrom shot deflected off Kadri's skate in front of the goal. It was Kadri's 17th of the season.

Booth, with his seventh, doubled the Leafs lead minutes later with an innocent-looking low shot that went through Koekkoek's legs and beat Vasilevskiy.

Callahan cut the lead to 2-1 on the power play later in the period, tapping in a rebound for his 23rd goal after a wonderful Reimer pad save on Ondrej Palat.

The Lightning had scored just one power-play goal in their previous six road games, going 1-for-22.

Tampa's Alex Killorn hit the post in the second period after accelerating past Eric Brewer. Toronto's Richard Panik then shot wide when in all alone.

Toronto visit Buffalo on Wednesday, The Lightning play Thursday in Ottawa.

There was a moment of silence before the game to honour Carley Allison, who died Tuesday at 19 of double lung cancer. Allison sang the national anthem at the ACC for a Hockey Fights Cancer night in November.

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