Lightning aim to continue surge in Toronto
(SportsNetwork.com) - While the Tampa Bay Lightning are being sparked by an undrafted rookie, the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled in net over back-to- back losses.
Trending in opposite directions, the Bolts try to extend their winning streak to four straight on Tuesday night while the Leafs hope to avoid a third setback.
The Lightning have been without one of the league's scorers in Steven Stamkos since mid-November but have managed to stay in the hunt in the Atlantic Division. They are just two points behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic and have won three in a row for the first time since a five-game run from Dec. 15-23.
Rookie Tyler Johnson keyed a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, notching the first hat trick of his career. The 23-year-old American has four goals and four assists over a five-game point streak as well as 16 goals and 34 points in 52 games on the season.
"It's one of those things that you have to be lucky to get it," Johnson said. "Tonight was a good night for me and I couldn't have done it without my linemates. I was just happy to be in the right spot."
Victor Hedman had three assists for a second game in a row, Ben Bishop made 25 saves and Martin St. Louis had an assist to push his point streak to 10 straight games. The veteran has eight goals and six assists over the run and on Saturday reached 599 assists for his career.
Tampa Bay will play its next four on the road and has won nine of the last 11 as the guest.
The Leafs return home following a four-game road trip, winning the first two of the stretch to push their overall winning streak to six straight before a 7-1 setback in Dallas on Thursday. Jonathan Bernier was lifted in favor of James Reimer during the game, but Reimer didn't fare much better when he got the start on Saturday in Winnipeg in a 5-4 overtime setback.
The Morweena, Manitoba native yielded three goals on 18 shots through 28 minutes of work, while Bernier yielded two goals on 14 shots in relief. That included the game-winner to Dustin Byfuglien 2:44 into overtime.
"It's the kid's (Reimer) hometown and he's played really well," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said on his decision to start Reimer. "That was our plan when we mapped out the week."
Phil Kessel scored with 1:33 remaining in regulation to force extra time. his 27th tally of the season. That is tied for fourth in the NHL and he also had an assist.
Dion Phaneuf and Troy Bodie also scored and defenseman Tim Gleason, acquired earlier this season from Carolina, netted his first goal since Dec. 18, 2011 with the Hurricanes.
James van Riemsdyk had an assist to give him a career high-tying 40 points for the Leafs, who trail the Lightning by seven points in the standings.
Tuesday is the first of four meetings between the Leafs and Lightning this season. Toronto has won five of the past seven encounters overall and three in a row at home.
Bishop is 2-3-0 with a 3.24 goals against average in five career games versus the Maple Leafs, while Bernier has never faced the Lightning.
01/28 11:55:05 ET