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Tampa Bay Lightning rally to 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs

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TORONTO - The Tampa Bay Lightning were tired after an overtime loss in Ottawa the previous night, but they had enough left to overpower the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 Thursday.

Matt Pettinger, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone and Paul Szczechura scored for the Lightning after Lee Stempniak had given the Leafs a 1-0 lead. Toronto had earned 15 of a possible 22 points in its previous 11 games but couldn't cope with the Lightning, who began the game 29th in the 30-team NHL. They lost 3-2 to the Senators on Wednesday.

There were exhibition games played in Air Canada Centre in years past that had more intensity than the first half of this one.

Stempniak scored the only goal of a flatliner of a first period that included only 12 shots on goal.

Luke Schenn slapped a long shot and the puck bounced to Stempniak at the front of the crease. Ramo lost his balance and there was lots of open net into which to smack the puck at 3:21. The goal was the 13th this season for the five-foot-10 right-winger, and his 10th in 49 games since being acquired last Nov. 24 from St. Louis for Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo.

Two penalties were assessed, both to the Lightning, and the Leafs were unable to get a shot on Ramo during the four minutes they had a manpower advantage.

The second period started with Martin Gerber kicking out his right leg to stop a breakaway shot by St. Louis.

On a breakaway a minute later, this one by Pettinger, Gerber fell into his net in again blocking the puck with his right leg but he couldn't stop the puck from sliding across the goal-line with him at 5:25. It was only the fourth goal of the season for Pettinger, who missed a chunk of games with injuries before Christmas.

The third, fourth and fifth penalties of the game were assessed to the Leafs and the Lightning couldn't score with an extra skater for six minutes, but they'd gained some momentum and had the upper hand for the rest of the period.

St. Louis made it 2-1 at 17:10 when he fired a cross-ice pass from Steven Stamkos into the open side of the Leafs net for his 25th goal.

Tampa Bay outshot Toronto 16-5 in the second period.

The Leafs got their third power-play chance when Jeff Halpern high-sticked John Mitchell at 7:11 of the third. They managed to get a shot on Ramo this time but they couldn't tie it.

Anton Stralman took his second penalty of the night at 13:06 and Malone's 24th, from Gerber's doorstep at 14:35, put this one in the win column for Tampa Bay.

Szczechura capped the scoring by beating Gerber with a wrist shot from the middle of the Toronto zone at 17:54.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson was ejected in the last minute for arguing with the referees.

Tampa Bay was up 30-21 on the shots counter at the end.

Notes(at): Announced attendance was 19,209 . . . Hadn't seen this during an NHL game in Air Canada Centre before: a spectator threw a puck onto the ice in the third period and a linesman retrieved it as play continued . . . The Leafs have 13 games remaining. They play at home against Calgary on Saturday (7 p.m. ET) then hit the road for games against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, Florida on Thursday and Montreal on Sunday . . . Lightning rookie Steve Stamkos has 14 goals and 33 points in 65 games. Compare: Vincent Lecavalier managed 13 goals and 28 points in 82 games in his 1998-99 rookie season . . . Tampa Bay won two previous games against Toronto this season 3-2 on Oct. 28 and 6-4 on Feb. 12 . . . Going into the game, man games lost due to injuries totalled 258 for Tampa Bay and 159 for Toronto.

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