The Tampa Bay Lightning returned back home Tuesday night after a tough west coast road trip to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-0 at the St Pete Times Forum.
Steven Stamkos continued to make a case to be the early favorite for the Hart Trophy as he tallied his league leading 12th and 13th goals of the year, to go along with the strong play of goaltender Dan Ellis in net.
It was an important game for the Lightning as they had to make a statement after the team’s poor play on their recent road trip.
The team had energy and jump right from the start as the forwards put pressure on the Leafs defense all night long never giving them a chance to catch there breathe. Nate Thompson was finally rewarded tonight with his first goal of the year as he knocked in a rebound of a shot by Mike Lundin, the shot hit off the post onto his stick.
Coach Guy Boucher talked about having his energy line of Thompson, Dana Tyrell and Adam Hall scattered throughout all his lines Tuesday night.
“It really made it fun to watch those guys make their efforts on every shift, instead of just one line,” the Bolts coach said.
Boucher was forced to mix and match his lines all night to compensate for being without forward Steve Downie, who was a surprise scratch against the Leafs, and Simon Gagne is still out with a neck injury.
The team however did receive one of their injured players back, as Dominic Moore made his return to the lineup tonight and he scored a big goal at the end of the first period to extend the Bolts lead to 3-0. It was the fifth goal of the year for Moore and Boucher couldn’t have asked for him to come back at a better time.
“He is just the right player for this team, this organization and he makes a big difference offensively and defensively,” Boucher said about Moore.
Solid play in their defensive zone blocked a ton of shots and made it real easy Ellis to play in his crease tonight. The Leafs forwards were never able to make Ellis uncomfortable as most of the Leafs shots were from the perimeter.
Ellis is starting to get more comfortable in his surroundings here in Tampa; which has showed in his play, as he earned second shutout in the three games. Ellis made all the routine saves and a couple of spectacular saves during the Maple Leafs surge in the second period. The Lightning netminder stopped all 28 shots he faced against the Leafs and continues to make a case to be the Bolts No. 1 goaltender.
Power Play/Penalty Kill:
The penalty kill was the difference in the game tonight as the Bolts were able to kill off a 5-on-3 penalty early in the first period. The Lightning, who currently have the third best penalty kill in the league, killed off all Leafs five power plays and limited them to very few shots and generating some scoring chances of their own while shorthanded.
The power play only had a couple of chances and they cashed in on one of them as Stamkos was able to bury his patented shot from the right faceoff dot for a goal. The power play unit had better puck movement, which lead directly to Stamkos’ power play goal.
Fantasy Performer of the Night:
Stamkos scored two goals and powered the team to the win. So far the he has a league leading 13 goals and 24 points during the 2010-11 season.
The Bolts return to the ice Thursday against the Washington Capitals in a battle for division and conference supremacy.