Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 1
TORONTO (AP)—Jason Allison did his part to help Toronto’s playoff hopes.
Allison scored twice and had an assist, and the Maple Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Saturday night in a game featuring two desperate teams.
Matt Stajan, Mats Sundin and Nik Antropov also scored for the Maple Leafs, who have won just six of 22 games. Toronto is seven points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We have to treat every game like a playoff game right now because they are,” Allison said. “I think the guys have, and I think we’ll continue that way. We have a lot of confidence that we are going to get in.”
The Maple Leafs have picked up five points in three games but have a difficult schedule ahead.
Allison—who has had a difficult season—put a backhanded shot past goalie Sean Burke at 5:55 of the first to give Toronto a 1-0 lead. He made it 3-1 in the third after Tampa Bay defenseman Darryl Sydor failed to clear the puck, allowing it to trickle in front of the net to Allison, who scored his 13th goal.
He assisted on Sundin’s goal at 10:08 of the third.
“There’s so much at stake for us,” Sundin said. “We have to make sure to help out and keep the puck out of our net. We’ve done that a lot better the last three games.”
Ruslan Fedotenko scored the lone goal for the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning, who have lost six of nine and allowed 50 goals during the skid. Tampa Bay fell into the eighth place, one point behind Montreal, which beat the New York Rangers at home Saturday night.
“We know we are desperate. We know it’s crunch time,” Burke said. “We don’t need to be told.”
Burke allowed five goals on 30 shots—dropping to 0-4 in his last four starts.
“A lot of pucks are going in our net and that ends up knocking you back,” Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said.
Mikael Tellqvist, Toronto’s backup goalie, got the start after Ed Belfour played in Toronto’s shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Friday night. Tellqvist looked sharp in the first two periods but allowed Fedotenko to cut it to 2-1 in the third on a weak goal.
Tellqvist, however, robbed Fredrik Modin of a goal with a kick save midway through the second. He finished with 29 saves.
“I still feel I got a lot of things to develop to be a No. 1 guy,” Tellqvist said.
Stajan scored a short-handed goal on a 2-on-1 by putting a wrist shot past Burke at 17:19 of the second, giving Toronto a 2-1 lead.
But after Tellqvist allowed a big rebound, Fedotenko got the puck back and put a weak wrist shot past Tellqvist, who was out of position.
Toronto coach Pat Quinn benched struggling forward Jeff O’Neill a day after sitting enforcer Tie Domi, who complained about not playing. … Toronto’s Wade Belak knocked Chris Dingman to the ice during a fight in the third. … The Hanson brothers were on hand.