The Lightning isn't in a playoff race, but two of its players are making the end to the season very interesting.
The 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs on Wednesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum that broke the Lightning's six-game losing streak was simply window dressing.
Marty St. Louis, with a hat trick, the seventh of his career, took over the league scoring lead with 58 points, two better than Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. St. Louis has 16 goals and also a league-most 42 assists.
Steven Stamkos, with a goal and assist, tied Crosby, who has been out 25 days with a broken jaw, for second. Stamkos, with 29 goals, is two behind Washington's Alex Ovechkin for the league lead.
Radko Gudas scored the winner for Tampa Bay (18-24-4) with a big slap shot 3:13 into the third period that broke a 2-2 tie. Nate Thompson had two assists, and goaltender Ben Bishop had 26 saves as Toronto had a 28-25 shot advantage.
The Lightning was lucky it escaped the first period down 1-0. Two Maple Leafs shots hit posts.
Phil Kessel hit the left post 7:32 into the period on a shot from the right faceoff circle. Carl Gunnarsson hit the right post with a snap shot at 9:55.
Kessel made it 1-0 with 2:57 left when his nothing shot deflected in off the stick of Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer. The sequence began with a not great clearing effort by defenseman Matt Carle that was picked off.
The Lightning got a scare with 2:33 left when Gudas tried to hip check Joe Colborne. Gudas got the worst of it, was slow getting off the ice and then needed help getting down the tunnel to the trainers' room. He returned for the start of the second period.
The Lightning did some good work through most of the second period and built a 2-1 lead on goals by Stamkos 5:54 into the period and St. Louis with 4:42 remaining.
Stamkos' goal was particularly artistic. He took a stretch pass in stride from Thompson and then used superb body and puck control to get around Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser and roof a backhand past goalie James Reimer.
St. Louis' goal looked easy. He scored while alone in the slot off Thompson's feed from the side of the crease.
Toronto tied the score with 23.4 seconds left when Joffrey Lupul was left alone in front of the net and scored off Clarke MacArthur's pass, but the real gaffe was Ben Pouliot's weak clearing attempt along the boards that was intercepted.
Gudas' goal, a rising slap shot, made it 3-2, and St. Louis made it 4-2 with 6:52 left. His third goal, from Lecavalier, was with 2:49 left.
Damian Cristodero can be reached at email@example.com. View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @LightningTimes.
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Lightning at Bruins
When/where: 7:30; TD Garden, Boston
TV/radio: Fox Sports Florida; 970-AM
Key stats: Lightning G Anders Lindback is 3-4-0 in 10 road games this season with a 3.48 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage. ... Bruins C Patrice Bergeron entered Wednesday with a league-best 61.6 winning percentage on faceoffs. Boston also led the league at 56.4 percent. ... Boston has been on the power play a league-fewest 117 times. ... The Bruins are 10-2-1 against the Southeast Division. ... The Lightning is 2-5-0 in the second of back-to-back games.