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Leafs pull within point of Lightning in Atlantic

The SportsXchange

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tim Gleason's father joined him on numerous "father's trips," an NHL tradition. The defenseman had yet to win in front of the old man.

Kevin Gleason finally got to watch his son win one -- and indulge in a late fight -- Thursday at Tampa Bay Times Forum. And it was a big one -- the fight and the win -- as the Toronto Maple Leafs crept closer to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the standings with a 4-1 win at Tampa Bay Times Forum.

With the win, Toronto (31-22-6) pulled within a point of the Lightning (32-20-5) in the Atlantic Division after winning 10 of its last 12. The Lightning lost four of five.

"It was like a four-point game tonight," said Gleason, who was part of a lengthy tussle when Tampa Bay winger J.T. Brown ran into Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier. "Now I get to have a beer with my dad on the plane."

Tampa Bay looked in need of a shot of something, too. A day after learning star center Steven Stamkos would not be medically cleared to play for Team Canada in the Olympics or for the Lightning in key Eastern Conference games against the Leafs and Detroit on Saturday, Tampa Bay looked very much like a team hanging on until he returns.

Tampa Bay dominated the beginning of the first period but Toronto ignited after its first power play of the game, creating three scoring chances -- two on breakaways -- that required nimble stops from Bishop. Gunnarsson came closest, weaving through three defenseman with 2:15 left, but failed to flick the puck over Bishop's shoulder in the crease.

"We didn't have anything going for ourselves, but we kept the puck in their en for a minute and a half," Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't score on that, but we got something going."

Toronto took a 1-0 lead with 12:03 left in the second period on Raymond's backhand flip on a breakaway. Raymond had taken a long feed from left wing Nikolai Kulemin before bursting into the Lightning zone and bullying past center Alex Killorn to score his 15th goal of the season. Kulemin and defenseman Morgan Rielly had assists.

Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop (21 saves) kept the score 1-0 with a superlative skate save off a Tyler Bozak shot with 4:16 left in the period as Toronto broke out quickly seconds after Lightning center Tyler Johnson couldn't convert a snap pass to the goal mouth.

Toronto increased its lead to 2-0 less than three minutes into the third period when center Jay McClement, rushing the net, poked in a pass from right winger David Clarkson from the right side of the net. Clarkson and right winger Joffrey Lupul had assists on McClement's third goal of the season.

"They are an opportunistic team," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, "and they found ways to get opportunities, but actually those didn't come back to haunt us. It was a couple turnovers here or there and all of a sudden it's in the back of the net."

Riemsdyk scored his 23rd goal of the season in traffic to seal the game with 11:48 left. Defenseman Carl Gunnarson and right winger Phil Kessel had assists.

Tampa Bay has one goal in regulation in each of its last three games, two of which were losses.

"We're not very opportunistic, I guess," Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis said. "We're still down just a goal going into the third. We just couldn't create enough, I guess, to give ourselves a chance. It starts with the top guys too. I had a tough one tonight."

Bernier made 33 saves as Toronto improved to 11-12-5 on the road.

Left winger Ondrej Palat scored his 12th of the season from the slot to cut the margin to 3-1 with 9:32 left. St. Louis and Johnson had assists.

Bozak scored his 12th goal of the season on an empty-netter for Toronto with 2:52 left off a Kessel assist.

NOTES: Lightning captain Martin St. Louis admitted he was "bitter" after being left off the Team Canada roster for the Sochi Olympics but expressed mixed feelings after being named the replacement for teammate Steven Stamkos, who was not cleared to play medically after breaking a leg Nov. 11. "I feel my whole career, how I came into this league, it was kind of a backdoor entrance, (and) this is kind of the same way," said the 38-year-old St. Louis, who was undrafted, signed by Calgary but cut in 2000 and then signed by the Lightning as a free agent. He has gone on to win two scoring titles, an MVP award and a Stanley Cup. ... Toronto C Nazem Kadri had a six-game points streak halted. ... The Leafs' six short-handed goals allowed on the road were tied for worst in the league. ... Lightning G Ben Bishop did not return after leaving at the second intermission with what the team called an upper-body injury. G Cedrick Desjardins replaced G Ben Bishop to begin the third period and made 11 saves on 13 shots. ... Tampa Bay C Valtteri Filppula left in the third with a lower-body injury and did not return.

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