Lightning win 7th straight 2-1 over Toronto

Posted at 10:34 PM, Feb 29, 2016

The Tampa Bay Lightning ended a grueling stretch of their season by getting a piece of first place in the Atlantic Division.

Tyler Johnson scored twice and the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Monday night for their seventh straight victory.

Tampa Bay tied the Florida Panthers for the Atlantic lead at 78 points despite playing its third road game in four nights. The winning streak matches a season high.

"We were able to get that 2-0 lead, but it was a tough one," captain Steven Stamkos said. "Sometimes you've got to win games like this when you have tired legs, and we found a way."

It was Johnson's first multi-goal game of the season. He was questionable to even play Monday after taking Kevan Miller's clearing attempt off his forehead in a 4-1 win at Boston on Sunday. He said he got 11 or 12 stitches above his left eye.

"It all happened pretty quick so I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think (the puck) just broke the visor and the visor cut me," Johnson said. "I think that's probably better than getting hit straight with the puck."

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the Lightning.

Nazem Kadri scored late in the third for Toronto, and Garret Sparks had 26 stops. The Leafs have lost two straight and seven of eight.

"Tampa Bay's a pretty good team but we hung with them so it was exciting to see the way we played," said Brooks Laich, who played his first game with the Leafs after coming over in a trade with Washington on Sunday.

Johnson opened the scoring at 4:53 of the second period by beating a screened Sparks with a snap shot glove-side from near the top of the faceoff circle.

The Bolts forward made it 2-0 at 15:28 of the middle period by sneaking one past Sparks five-hole from the side of the net for his 11th of the season.

"It's nice that we can play, not the greatest of games, but still get a win," Johnson said. "Three games in four nights, all on the road, to get three wins out of that, I think we're feeling pretty good about ourselves."

Brad Boyes nearly got the Leafs on the board late in the second on a power play, but his shot rang off the post.

Kadri picked up his 12th of the season, on a power play, at 17:45 of the third after getting the puck past a screened Vasilevskiy.

Sparks made his first NHL start since Dec. 17 and did his best to hold Toronto in the game during the first period as the Leafs were outshot 15-9.

Near the 12-minute mark, Sparks robbed Steven Stamkos in close as the Lightning captain couldn't get the puck up and over the rookie's left pad.

Moments later, Sparks sprawled out to stop Valtteri Filppula with the paddle of this stick.

Stamkos had his season-high six-game point streak snapped in the loss.

Tampa Bay played the second half of the game with six defensemen instead of seven after Andrej Sustr left the game with an undisclosed injury near the 7-minute mark of the second and did not return. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said the blue liner "jammed something."

The Bolts have won all three meetings between the clubs this season. They'll meet again on March 15 in Toronto.

NOTES: Maple Leafs forwards Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (muscle spasms) and Byron Froese (broken hand) each missed their first game since getting injured. Defenseman Jason Garrison returned to Tampa Bay's lineup after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. Prior to puck drop, the Leafs observed a moment of silence for the late Andy Bathgate, who passed away last week.