Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lightning 3, Leafs 2

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO — The evening began with a joke:

Lightning center Steven Stamkos sprinting onto the ice for warmups as teammates purposefully waited in the runway behind him.

Stamkos, 18, who grew up in a Toronto suburb and played his first game in the Air Canada Centre, needed several moments to realize he was alone.

"I guess it was one of those rookie initiation things that I never heard of," Stamkos said. "I thought it was pretty funny. I guess we're going to start doing it every game here if we keep winning."

Tampa Bay's 3-2 victory Tuesday over the Maple Leafs couldn't have come at a better time for Stamkos or the team.

For the Unionville, Ontario, native and last summer's No. 1 draft choice, his first NHL point, an assist, relieved some pressure. For the Lightning (2-3-3), the team's first regulation win was redemption after Saturday's dreadful loss to the Sharks.

It also snapped a 0-5-1 streak in Toronto and pulled Tampa Bay out of the Southeast Division cellar.

"This means a lot," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "We had a disaster at home versus San Jose. This was the way to bounce back. We deserved to win."

Prospal set up Vinny Lecavalier's two goals. And even though Marty St. Louis was without a point, his four shots contributed to the MVP line's best game of the season.

Jussi Jokinen scored, and what more can be said about Mike Smith? The goaltender again was exceptional with 37 saves as the Lightning was outshot 39-25, including 13-5 in a scoreless third period.

Smith's excellence makes you wonder where Tampa Bay could be if it had more than 14 goals.

"If we could score one more goal a game, we'd have 10, 12 points and Mike Smith would be leading every goaltending category in the NHL," Melrose said.

Smith, who has faced 37.5 shots a game in six starts, already leads with a .942 save percentage. Asked when he would like to see the shots start to reduce, Smith joked, "Tomorrow.

"No, it happens," he continued. "But it seems to be getting into the habit where it's like a shooting gallery back there. But it's my job to stop pucks, so I can't really complain."

Other things to complain about: winning just 41 percent of faceoffs, and six minor penalties, four in 4:02 of the first period that at one point forced Tampa Bay to kill off a 1:11 five-on-three.

There was no complaining about Lecavalier, who has a team-best five goals.

He scored in the first period off a long pass from Prospal that ricocheted off the side boards. Lecavalier held up at the blue line before touching the puck to avoid going offsides, then made goalie Vesa Toskala look sick with a sweet backhander.

Lecavalier's power-play goal 4:03 into the second put the Lightning ahead 3-1. That also was the goal on which Stamkos got his assist.

"I thought I touched it," Stamkos said. "I let Vinny know I thought I had it in the corner, and when I heard the name, that was pretty cool."

"Definitely a weight off his shoulders," Lecavalier said.

And a good rookie initiation.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at View his blog at

Lightning 2 1 0 3
Maple Leafs 1 1 0 2

First Period1, Tampa Bay, Jokinen 1 (Recchi, Lundin), 5:08. 2, Toronto, Stajan 1 (Antropov, Ponikarovsky), 7:34 (pp). 3, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 4 (Prospal, M.Smith), 15:37. PenaltiesFinger, Tor (holding), :58; Van Ryn, Tor (delay of game), 1:24; Krajicek, TB (interference), 6:57; Prospal, TB (holding), 8:17; Ranger, TB (hooking), 10:10; Gratton, TB (delay of game), 10:59.

Second Period4, Tampa Bay, Lecavalier 5 (Prospal, Stamkos), 4:08 (pp). 5, Toronto, Van Ryn 2 (Grabovski, Hagman), 13:15 (pp). PenaltiesMayers, Tor (hooking), 4:03; Lundin, TB (hooking), 6:27; Malik, TB (holding), 11:58; Van Ryn, Tor (delay of game), 17:09.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltyKaberle, Tor (delay of game), 2:14. Shots on GoalTampa Bay 9-11-5—25. Toronto 17-9-13—39. Power-play opportunitiesTampa Bay 1 of 5; Toronto 2 of 6. GoaliesTampa Bay, M.Smith 2-2-2 (39 shots-37 saves). Toronto, Toskala 3-2-2 (25-22). A19,348 (18,819). T2:33. RefereesGreg Kimmerly, Bill McCreary. LinesmenMike Cvik, Scott Cherrey.

Tampa Bay Lightning beats Toronto Maple Leafs 10/28/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 9:49pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Raging Bull' boxer Jake LaMotta dies at 95


    Jake LaMotta, the former champion boxer whose life was immortalized by Robert DeNiro in the 1980 film Raging Bull, died Tuesday at age 95.

    Jake LaMotta and his fiance Denise arrive for the world premier of the critically acclaimed boxing drama "Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story" at the Beekman Theater in New York in 2005. LaMotta, whose life was depicted in the film "Raging Bull," died Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, at a Miami-area hospital from complications of pneumonia. He was 95. [Associated Press]
  2. J.R. Sweezy shows what Bucs were missing


    By Greg Auman

    TAMPA —- Sunday's season-opening win against the Bears saw the debut of 13 Bucs, a mix of rookies and free-agent veterans.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73), seen at center, runs through drills during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 31, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Vikings features a battle of top rookies


    Greg Auman looks at how much the Bucs have changed since the last time they played the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 in our latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) makes a reception as Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) tackles him Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Late Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella was a fighter until the end

    Swimming Preps

    At swim meets, Cailin Cannella would race side-by-side with her breastroke competitors, their heads bobbing in near unison.

    Holy Names swimmer Cailin Cannella, here at age 13, still was practicing last year after finding out she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer). [Times 2016]
  5. Gators roundtable: Was that really a Hail Mary?


    Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks' last-second heave beat Tennessee Saturday in Gainesville, but was it a Hail Mary, typically a pass made in desperation with little chance of success? The Times' college football coveage team weighs in:


    Feleipe Franks #13 of the Florida Gators celebrates with his teammates after he threw a 63-yard pass at the end of the game to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 26-20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)