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Maple Leafs top Lightning

TORONTO — The Lightning was not ready to play Wednesday night against the Maple Leafs, flat out not ready.

How that was possible considering Tampa Bay was just five points out of a playoff spot and Toronto is one of the teams it is pursuing was unfathomable to players and coaches.

"It was just disappointing," left wing Cory Conacher said after the 4-2 loss at the Air Canada Centre. "It's not even upset. It's like when your parents say they're disappointed. It's almost worse."

Worse because the Lightning (13-16-1) had won three of its previous four games and seemed to be building momentum.

Yet it was thoroughly outplayed while falling behind 4-0 through two periods — Toronto scored three in the second, including two in 29 seconds — and went 0-for-4 on the power play without a shot on goal.

To make matters worse, goalie Anders Lindback, who entered 6:53 into the second period after starter Mathieu Garon was pulled, left with 12:16 left in the third with a lower-body injury.

"Hopefully it's nothing that will keep him out for long," coach Guy Boucher said.

The Lightning did get some positives. Rookie defenseman Radko Gudas scored his first NHL goal, and Conacher, a Toronto-area native playing his first game as an NHLer at the Air Canada Centre, made it 4-2 with 2:58 left in the third.

But Tampa Bay got almost nothing out of Steven Stamkos, who had one shot and was minus-2. Teddy Purcell had zero shots and was benched in the final seven minutes. Even Marty St. Louis, who played 24:29 and had three shots, generally was a nonfactor.

But it was the seeming teamwide disinterest through the first 40 minutes or so that was so distressing, especially against a team that had lost five straight and might have crumbled if pushed early.

"They wanted the puck more than we did," Stamkos said.

"We weren't ourselves, and I don't know why," Boucher said." We looked like we were just waiting to see what was going to happen out there."

What happened was Joffrey Lupul scored in the first period after Sami Salo's defensive-zone giveaway and with Victor Hedman out of position. And Garon, who allowed three goals on 13 shots before he was pulled, missed Dion Phaneuf's blue line shot that made it 2-0 52 seconds into the second.

"You can't expect to win an NHL game if you're not going to play 60 minutes full out with the urgency needed right off the bat," Boucher said. "We didn't have that (Wednesday)."

Added Gudas: "We didn't show up as a team."

Maple Leafs 1 3 0 4
Lightning 0 0 2 2
Maple Leafs 1 3 0 4
Lightning 0 0 2 2

First1, Tor, Lupul 3 (Kadri, Gunnarsson), 6:56. PenaltiesKillorn, TB (tripping), 13:14; Lupul, Tor (tripping), 13:39.

Second2, Tor, Phaneuf 5 (Gunnarsson, Kadri), :52. 3, Tor, Bozak 8 (Kessel, Fraser), 6:53. 4, Tor, Kulemin 4 (Kadri, Lupul), 7:22. PenaltiesCrombeen, TB, major (fighting), :29; Fraser, Tor, major (fighting), :29; Kadri, Tor (interference), 8:09; Conacher, TB (roughing), 10:05; Fraser, Tor (roughing), 10:05.

Third5, TB, Gudas 1 (Labrie, Crombeen), 7:44. 6, TB, Conacher 8 (Johnson, St. Louis), 17:02. PenaltiesLupul, Tor (illegal check to head minor), :45; Gunnarsson, Tor (holding), 5:07; Purcell, TB (hooking), 10:53. Shots on GoalTB 6-11-11—28. Tor 8-10-8—26. Power-play opportunitiesTB 0 of 4; Tor 0 of 2. GoaliesTB, Garon 3-8-0 (18 shots-15 saves), Lindback (6:53 second, 8-7), Garon 3-8-0 (7:44 third). Tor, Reimer 10-4-2 (28-26). A19,433 (18,819).

Maple Leafs top Lightning 03/20/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:28am]

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