Stamkos has four points to lead Bolts over Leafs | The Canadian News

TORONTO – Steven Stamkos scored early and set up his team’s last three goals to help back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

The meager Lightning (17-5-4) was left without four major players, but posted his fifth straight victory before 18,919 at Scotiabank Arena.

Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs (18-8-2) lost their third in four starts since forward Mitch Marner missed with a shoulder injury last Friday.

Regulars Jason Spezza (suspension), Travis Dermott (shoulder) and Rasmus Sandin (knee) were also missing from Toronto’s lineup.

But Tampa Bay performed without forwards Nikita Kucherov (lower body), Brayden Point (upper body), Anthony Cirelli (upper body) and defender Erik Cernak (foot).

The Lightning showcased their turnover-causing forecheck check that sent Tampa Bay on the road to two successive Stanley Cup victories in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Tied 2-2 after the first 20 minutes, Stamkos stole the puck from veteran Maple Leafs defender Jake Muzzin early in the second period. The Lightning captain then found Ondrej Palat, who got lucky when Toronto right winger William Nylander threw the puck off Palat’s stick and into his own goal.

Stamkos, lifted just north of Toronto at Markham, and Palat did so five minutes later, forcing Maple Leafs defender TJ Brodie to turn the ball along the flanks towards the Toronto end.

Palat then found rookie Taylor Raddysh of Caledon, ON, for his third lead and two goals.

Toronto forward Ondrej Kase scored his second of the game with 10 minutes and 24 seconds remaining on a rebound to bring his club closer to one goal. But Palat added an empty netter.

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The Maple Leafs shot out the visitors 38-27.

The Maple Leafs took an early lead, only to fall behind 2-1 before scoring a second power play goal late in the first period.

Kase pounced on the loose puck in front of Tampa’s goal for his 50th career goal and a 1-0 lead.

Lightning veteran Corey Perry intercepted a pass on his blue line from Muzzin and then set up line mate Pierre-Edouard Bellemare on a two-on-one break.

Tampa Bay moved up 2-1 with Stamkos’ 39-foot howitzer in the high slot midway through the opening period. But Nylander tied the game with a power play goal at the 7:53 p.m. mark.

Auston Matthews made a nifty play from a blitzkrieg off the blue line to win the zone over his opponent Bellemare. Matthews then threw a cross pass to Nylander for his twelfth of the season.

Nylander had a meager breakaway early in the third period, but he shot high and wide on Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy.

This Canadian Press report was first published on December 9, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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