Leafs snap skid with 5-2 win over Lightning

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After being out-scored 15-4 over two losses, the Toronto Maple Leafs replied with five of their own Thursday night beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

David Clarkson, who scored five goals all of last season, opened the scoring with his sixth of the season.

After Alex Killorn tied the game 1-1, Toronto responded with three unanswered second period goals.

Richard Panik, who spent parts of two seasons with the Lightning, scored his fourth of the season.

Then James van Riemsdyk scored twice in less than three minutes giving the Leafs a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Defenseman Cody Franson picked up an assist on van Riemsdyk’s first of the night extending his point streak to a career-best nine games. Franson is now one game shy of matching Tom Kurvers’ record for longest point streak by a Leafs defenceman (10 games – Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 1990)

“The last two games before tonight we weren’t playing close to how we drew up our gameplan,” Franson said post-game. “We got away from our system and we didn’t stay disciplined to what we wanted to do. We gave up too many odd-man rushes.

“Tonight we were much more positionally sound. We didn’t give them a ton of offensive chances. You’re bound to give yourself a better chance to win games when you play smart hockey like that.”

Roman Polak added an empty netter in the third period.

Steven Stamkos had the other Lightning goal.

“We knew they were coming off of a loss. We were coming off a loss too. It should have been two desperate teams tonight,” Stamkos said. “I can’t say we really earned any of our breaks tonight. We only gave them 20 shots, I think, but we just didn’t play our game. We didn’t get any pucks deep. We didn’t use our speed. We didn’t control the play and the pace and we took too many penalties early.”

Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves improving to 6-5-2 on the season. Ben Bishop made 16 saves in the loss.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was disappointed in the lack of response from his team following Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Islanders.

“One thing all year, we’ve been a team that’s answered,” Cooper said. “We’ve answered the bell after a loss, and clearly we didn’t answer the bell today so that was frustrating.”