TAMPA -- The Tampa Bay Lightning have not suddenly begun playing better during a two-game win streak, said coach Guy Boucher. He believes there were plenty of good moments in the six-game winless streak that preceded it.
But after a 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at Tampa Bay Times Forum, process, effort and result had finally showed up in consecutive games.
"Everyone wants us to say the last two games all of a sudden things have just turned around," said Boucher, whose team improved to (8-6-1, 17 points). "That's not the truth. The truth is throughout those games we lost we did a lot of good stuff and we wanted to continue building on it."
In a statistically ordinary and often bland game against a team coming off consecutive shutout wins, the Lightning played the type of fundamental hockey Boucher covets.
"I think we're working hard, we're battling," said Benoit Pouliot who had three assists as four different Lightning scored goals. "I think that's what got away from us the six games we lost. Tonight we played hard. Played for a good 60 minutes."
Almost, Boucher said. He was annoyed by what he felt was an undisciplined last five minutes in which the Lightning seemed preoccupied with Toronto's empty net and James Van Riemsdyk added a late goal for the Leafs (10-8-0, 20 points).
The victory ended a three-game home losing streak for the Lightning, which went 0-3-1 against Toronto last season.
Tampa Bay was out-shot, 25-19, but used 23 saves from Anders Lindback and a pesky forecheck to minimized the Maple Leafs' opportunities. Steven Stamkos' shot from the edge of the crease gave the Lightning a 2-1 lead with 18:26 left in the second period, and the team never looked back. Stamkos notched his tenth of the season after Pouliot rooted the puck loose along the boards behind the goal, where Cory Conacher gathered it and fed Stamkos.
The league's most productive power play went 0 for 4 through the first two periods, including a potentially crucial stretch midway through the second when the Lightning had two-man advantages within seconds of each other. Tampa Bay managed 10 shots on goal through two periods, but led, 2-1.
"I'm looking at scoring chances against and we gave nothing up in the second period. Zero," Boucher said. That's what I am looking at. The rest I could care less."
Alexander Killorn upped the lead to 3-1 on the team's next shot on net less than two minutes into the third period, as his blast from near the left wall appeared to hit a Leaf's stick and distract goaltender Ben Scrivens, who was charged with four goals after consecutive shutout wins.
"I don't know if we demonstrated enough determination or desperation until the last seven minutes of the hockey game," Carlyle said. "It seems like we were a flat group for a good period of the game but at one point I looked up when it was 2-1, I think it was after two periods and we had only given up ten shots. ... We did a lot of things well from a standpoint."
Matt Carle's power play goal with 13:02 left gave Tampa Bay a 4-1 and prompted coach Randy Carlyle to insert Jussi Rynnas in goal.
"Obviously, it was not good enough to win the game," Scrivens said of his performance. "It seems like I was getting some fortunate bounces in the last couple games, but today they bounced the other way. It's the nature of the game, those are the breaks."
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead with 10:35 left in the first period on Vincent Lecavalier's sixth goal of the season. Lecavalier took a pass from Pouliot, who had pounced on a loose puck in the offensive zone and wristed a shot past Scrivens before defenseman Michael Kostka could recover. Toronto tied the game, 1-1, with 2:01 left in the first period when Mikhail Grabovski tapped in a loose puck in front of the net in transition as Lightning goaltender Anders Lindback had failed to control a shot with his glove. The goal was Grabovski's fourth.
NOTES: Pouliot has five points (two goals, three assist) in the past two games. He has amassed 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his last 10 games. ... Lecavalier extended his point streak to five games. ... Tampa Bay is 82-33-13 when Steven Stamkos scores a goal dating back to the 2009-10 season. ... After scoring his first NHL goal in Florida on Saturday afternoon, Killorn notched his second career goal tonight in the third period. ... Carle's power play goal gave the Lightning one in eight of nine home games this season. ... The Lightning is 5-0-0 when leading after the second period. ... The Lightning lead the NHL with 28 second-period goals. ... Martin St. Louis leads the league with 18 assists. ... The Lightning's shooting percentage improved to a league-best 15 percent. ... St. Louis has at least a point in four straight. Cory Conacher has at least a point in eight of 15 and leads rookies in scoring. ... The Maple Leafs entered with a 7-2-0 road mark and coming off consecutive shutouts. ... Tampa Bay has notched four or more goals in a game in eight of its first 15 games this season. ... Through 16 games this season, the Maple Leafs led the NHL in hits and fighting majors.