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Lightning eliminate Leafs with shutout
Tampa, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Anders Lindback relieved the injured Ben Bishop in net and stopped all 25 shots he faced as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-0, and eliminated them from playoff contention.
The Maple Leafs were second in the Atlantic Division as of Mar. 13 but have spiraled into a 2-10 slump, with none of the losses coming in overtime. Entering Tuesday's game, they stood three points back of Columbus for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Their loss, coupled with the Blue Jackets' overtime win over Phoenix on Tuesday, means Toronto's season will end at the end of the week.
"Not in shock," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said. "I guess the words to describe it would be extremely disappointed, shallow, embarrassed. All those things. I think we have more than what we were able to accomplish, and that's the most troubling issue here. We just didn't find a way to compete to a level that was necessary."
Ondrej Palat scored two goals and Victor Hedman added an empty-netter in the final minute for the Lightning, who snapped a two-game skid and stayed five points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division with three games to play for both teams.
Tuesday's game did not begin as planned for Tampa Bay, as Bishop went down less than six minutes in. The netminder dove after a deflection, landed on his left wrist and stayed on the ice writhing in pain after making the save.
His teammates immediately called to the bench for assistance, and he needed help getting off the ice with what the team deemed an upper-body injury.
Bishop had made three saves to that point, and Lindback did the rest with seven more in the opening frame, 11 in the second and seven more in the third to complete the shutout.
"It wasn't a surprise that he came in and played huge for us," said Hedman. "He made key saves when we needed him and it was a well-deserved shutout for him."
Palat opened the scoring at the 9:19 mark of the second period when he fired a shot over James Reimer's shoulder, and the Lightning tacked on another thanks to a fortunate bounce with 4:15 left in the middle stanza.
While on the power play, Steven Stamkos' shot banked off the boards behind the net and caromed over to Palat for a tap-in. Reimer was unable to recover and was saddled with another loss despite finishing with a respectable 31 saves.
Both of Lindback's two career full shutouts came during the 2010-11 campaign while playing for Nashville ... Palat has 22 goals on the season ... Hedman also assisted on both of Palat's goals ... Reimer fell to 1-7-0 over his last eight starts ... The Leafs, who are just 14-18-7 on the road, play their final two games at Florida and Ottawa ... Tampa Bay hosts the Flyers on Thursday ... These teams split the four-game season series.
04/09 01:02:03 ET
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