TORONTO — Simon Gagne has played 671 NHL games. He is a two-time 40-goal scorer, a two-time All-Star. Still, he said he had trouble sleeping Monday after it was decide he would play Tuesday night against the Maple Leafs.
"Even (Tuesday) afternoon I was looking for a good two hours nap, but I couldn't sleep," Gagne said. "I was really nervous."
He needn't have worried.
In his first game after missing 18 straight because of a neck injury, the left wing's first goal of the season gave the Lightning a 4-3 overtime victory at the Air Canada Centre.
"It felt good," said Gagne, who scored 1:15 into the extra period. "The more the game went on, I felt more comfortable. Getting the goal in overtime, that's a bonus."
For the Lightning (14-8-3), which snapped a two-game losing streak, the bonus was being in a position to win. It trailed 3-1 early in the third.
But Marty St. Louis scored twice, the second with 8.7 seconds left in regulation on a slap shot from the blue line, to tie the score 3-3.
Gagne was in on that, too, setting a screen in front of Toronto goalie Jonas Gustavsson. He also assisted on Ryan Malone's first-period power-play goal.
Not bad for a guy who, acquired from the Flyers over the summer with so much fanfare, had zero points and was minus-8 in six games before muscle and nerve inflammation in the back of his neck sidelined him.
"He kept it simple," said St. Louis, who has 10 goals.
"He got the puck to the net, made some great defensive plays and got rewarded from it. I couldn't be happier for him."
"He wasn't coming in as a savior," coach Guy Boucher said. "I gradually used him on different lines, the power play to see if he could hack the ice time."
Gagne played 12:55, with four shots and a hit. Even so, it was bleak for Tampa Bay 7:23 into the third when Nikolai Kulemin gave Toronto a 3-1 lead after the puck Joey Crabb rimmed around the boards in the Lightning zone deflected off the corner glass and into the slot.
With goalie Dan Ellis behind the net to play the puck, Kulemin had an empty net at which to shoot.
"But guys are stepping up," center Steven Stamkos said.
Such as Steve Downie, whose play at the Toronto blue line to capture the puck sparked St. Louis' first goal, and Teddy Purcell, who had seven shots for a team with a 39-25 shot advantage.
Finishing it was Gagne with a wrist shot low and hard past Gustavsson at the end of a two-on-one.
"I just decided to go with the shot," Gagne said, "a good feeling."
Sure to provide sweet dreams.
First Period—1, Toronto, Versteeg 7 (Bozak, Gunnarsson), 1:25. Penalties—Komisarek, Tor (tripping), 9:54; Versteeg, Tor (tripping), 14:01.
Second Period—2, Tampa Bay, Malone 6 (Gagne), 5:18 (pp). 3, Toronto, Kulemin 8 (Kaberle, Versteeg), 11:51 (pp). Penalties—Kulemin, Tor (hooking), 1:16; Kulemin, Tor (boarding), 3:50; Tampa Bay bench, served by Downie (too many men), 7:09; Hedman, TB (tripping), 10:36; R.Jones, TB (delay of game), 12:58.
Third Period—4, Toronto, Kulemin 9 (Crabb, Komisarek), 7:23. 5, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 9 (Downie), 8:25. 6, Tampa Bay, St. Louis 10 (Stamkos, Moore), 19:51. Penalties—Kulemin, Tor (hooking), 1:15; R.Jones, TB (holding stick), 11:07.
Overtime—7, Tampa Bay, Gagne 1 (Clark), 1:15. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 17-12-9-1—39. Toronto 7-13-5-0—25. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 1 of 5; Toronto 1 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Ellis 6-4-3 (25 shots-22 saves). Toronto, Gustavsson 3-6-2 (39-35). A—19,063 (18,819). T—2:35. Referees—Chris Rooney, Ian Walsh. Linesmen—Scott Cherrey, Mark Shewchyk.