TORONTO — The Tampa Bay Lightning became the seventh team in NHL history with 110 points through 70 games when they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.
“Our consistency throughout the season has been phenomenal, but we’re not patting ourselves on the shoulders,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “We are looking at the big picture, we have 11 games here before the fun starts, so we have to keep going and keep playing games like these and have that in the back of our head, like today, of how good we are when we play the right way.”
Tyler Johnson and Cedric Paquette each scored two goals, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the Lightning (53-13-4), who have won four of their past five games. Tampa Bay has clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and leads the Boston Bruins by 17 points for first place in the Eastern Conference.
“I thought we played a much better game in the neutral zone, not giving them chances off the rush,” Johnson said. “They have a lot of high-skilled guys who are able to create things. I thought we skated well, got above them, and just played the right way and took our chances when we got them.”
Clutch Performance of the Night
03:06 • 11:27 AM
Auston Matthews and Connor Brown scored for the Maple Leafs (42-22-5), who are 3-1-1 in their past five games and trail the Bruins by four points for second in the Atlantic Division. Frederik Andersen allowed four goals on 19 shots before being pulled. Garret Sparks made 21 saves.
“The effort kind of just wasn’t there at times,” Matthews said. “I mean, I think in the third period we pretty much just quit. That’s on us as players. We’ve got to wake up and do a much better job and hold each other accountable. Not let [Andersen] or [Sparks] out to dry.”
Johnson put the Lightning up 1-0 at 10:07 of the first period when Ryan McDonagh’s shot deflected off his skate.
Anthony Cirelli made it 2-0 at 18:38 when Mikael Sergachev’s point shot deflected off his leg in the slot.
Vasilevskiy’s back-to-back saves
00:15 • 7:00 AM
“You can look at those goals as fluky, but we were in the right spots for those to be able to happen,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of what happens at the end of the season and playoffs, where a lot of times it’s the garbage goals that go in.”
Johnson scored his second of the game to give the Lightning a 3-0 lead at 4:20 of the second. Andersen made a left-pad save on McDonagh’s shot from the left face-off dot on the rush, and Point kicked the puck across to Johnson, who swept it in on his backhand.
Ondrej Palat scored 30 seconds later when Braydon Coburn’s point shot deflected off him in the right face-off circle and went in off Matthews in the slot to make it 4-0 at 4:50.
Matthews made it 4-1 at 11:49 when he got around Point at the top of the right circle and shot between Vasilevskiy’s pads.
Paquette put the Lightning back up by four goals with a shorthanded goal. He one-timed a pass from Victor Hedman on a 3-on-1 to make it 5-1 at 18:16.
Matthews scores after slick move
00:49 • 7:00 AM
Paquette scored his second of the game at 5:59 of the third period to put Tampa Bay up 6-1.
Brown made it 6-2 with five seconds left.
“They had some bounces early, and I don’t think we responded that well and I think that can go for the third period as well,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “We came out with the attitude that we were going to play right, and that’s not necessarily what happened. It’s important that we go over things and fix things we need to fix moving forward.”
They said it
“We’ve had a good season so far, but we really haven’t done anything yet. Our team is a bunch of competitors who work extremely hard. We continue to get better every single day. We don’t rely on our wins, our losses, our record, we just want to be better tomorrow than we were today, and I think we’ve been doing that.” — Lightning forward Tyler Johnson
“We have to do a lot better, this was a good wake up call for us. It was a measuring stick game, that’s the best team in the League. We didn’t come ready to play and they pretty much just slapped us.” — Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews
Need to know
The Montreal Canadiens reached 110 points in fewer than 70 games in three seasons (67 in 1976-77, 69 in 1975-76 and 69 in 1977-78); the Bruins did it in 70 games or fewer twice (69 in 1970-71 and 70 in 1971-72); and the Detroit Red Wings did it in 69 games in 1995-96. … McDonagh played his 600th NHL game. … Maple Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen was a late scratch because he was ill.
Lightning: At the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-D, SUN, NHL.TV)
Maple Leafs: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS)