The Lightning found their offense and James Reimer showed his youth as the Bolts took a 6-2 decision over the Maple Leafs tonight. Tampa benefited from a complete team effort that saw scoring throughout the lineup and a team commitment to defense and physicality. If ever there was a kind of win the Lightning needed, this was it.
Early on, the Lightning’s PK was put to the test with four first-period penalties to kill. It was huge for them to start out so strong, and it was crucial to come out of the first period with the lead. The game continued to be a tight battle throughout the second, but an extremely timely goal by Vinny Lecavalier to expand the lead to two with under two minutes remaining in the second period. That broke the spirit of the Leafs, and they wouldn’t score for the rest of the game.
It took until almost half way through the third period for Reimer to be pulled and replaced with J.S Giguere. That will certainly be a point of contention for Leafs fans, as it took Wilson until the game was out of reach at 5-2 with 10 minutes left to pull Reimer. Reimer didn’t play terribly, but the Lightning crashed the net and didn’t give up on plays, exploiting his weaknesses.
The dedication of the Lightning directly led to at least two goals. One of those efforts came from Lecavalier, normally a player who uses his skill. Both top players like him and role players like Nate Thompson and Mattias Ritola did their part as well.
Speaking of Ritola, what a game he had. Two goals and six shots in an offensive explosion from him. Tedy Purcell also earned himself a couple of assists as grinders were the theme of the night. Mike Lundin also got his first goal tonight, a nice story for a player who has spent so much time out with injury.
This is the game they need to duplicate. They are now only three points behind the Capitals for the Southeast lead and only one behind the Penguins for fourth place. If they can string together a few more games like this one, they will be in great shape for the playoffs. This was a confidence game, and that will hopefully carry over.
1st: Mattias Ritola
2nd: Teddy Purcell
3rd: Nate Thompson
Highlights courtesy of NHL.com