TAMPA, Fla. – Martin St. Louis had the touch against the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
Nearly everything the five-foot-nine all-star forward got a stick on resulted in a goal as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat Toronto 6-4. Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier scored third-period goals, but St. Louis was everywhere during a flurry of action in the first that gave the Lightning a 4-1 lead.
The Lightning scored four times in a 4:13 span of the first, the second-fastest four goals scored in franchise history. St. Louis assisted on the first three and scored the fourth on the power play with a backhander over Vesa Toskala’s shoulder.
“I just felt good tonight,” said St. Louis, who has 20 goals and a team-high 54 points. “Tonight, everything I touched early on, something happened. You build off that and you get confident and you get arrogant in your play.”
Ryan Malone scored twice a 54-second span in the first, and Mark Recchi added another.
“Marty definitely had a different gear than everybody out there,” Malone said. “He was buzzing.”
Stamkos, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft last summer, scored his seventh of the season on a power play to give Tampa Bay a 5-3 lead at 6:01 of the third.
Lecavalier added his team-high 25th goal with 6:32 left.
“I think every day (Stamkos) is learning,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. “He added that youthfulness that we needed tonight.”
Toskala was pulled after the fourth goals and made only eight saves. He was replaced by Curtis Joseph, who saw action for just the 12th time this season.
“I couldn’t make the saves we need to keep us in the game,” Toskala said.
For Stamkos, scoring a goal on Joseph is a highlight early in his career.
“I grew up watching the Leafs and idolizing them,” said the 19-year-old from Markham, Ont. “He was a big part of their great teams. … It was pretty cool to get one by him.”
Lee Stempniak scored twice for Toronto, and Niklas Hagman and Nikolai Kulemin also added goals.
Toronto cut Tampa’s lead to 4-3 in the second. Stempniak scored his second goal of the game at 11:32 on a power play, and Hagman added his 17th goal 1:14 later.
“We’re scoring four or five goals and that’s not enough to get two points, let alone one,” Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said.
Mike McKenna had 19 saves for Tampa Bay, and Joseph stopped 17 shots.
Notes: The Lightning recalled defenceman Josef Melichar from Norfolk. … Maple Leafs centre Paul Szczechura was put on injured reserve Thursday because of an unspecified lower-body injury. … Malone required five stitches on the bridge of his nose near his left eye after taking a stick to the face in the first. The stitches were put in before his two goals.