Lightning Bolt By Leafs
TAMPA, Fla. (CP) - The Toronto Maple Leafs faded out of post-season contention again.
Ondrej Palat had two goals, Anders Lindback came off the bench to make 25 saves, and the Tampa Bay Lightning ended Toronto's playoff hopes by beating the Maple Leafs 3-0 on Tuesday night.
"Not in shock,'' Maple Leafs 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.''
James Reimer stopped 31 shots for the Maple Leafs, who have lost 10 of 12. Toronto has missed the playoffs eight of the last nine seasons.
"Obviously, this one hurts,'' Reimer said. "The bottom line, we weren't good enough. I think that as a guy and as a team, you look in the mirror and you just have to accept that we weren't good enough. A wise man once said that the playoffs don't let you in unless you're good enough. You don't sneak in there if you don't deserve it.''
The loss to Tampa Bay and Columbus' overtime win over Phoenix sealed the Maple Leafs' fate.
"I actually didn't say anything (to the team) after because I was real disappointed, obviously, knowing that Columbus had won in overtime,'' Carlyle said. "They knew that after the game as well as I did, so it was a moot point going in and saying anything at this point. We'll meet tomorrow and we'll talk tomorrow.''
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop left with 14:17 left in the first due to an undisclosed upper-body injury. He was hurt while lunging to his left and landing on his side while attempting to glove the puck. Lindback replaced Bishop, who is 37-14-7 this season for the playoff-bound Lightning.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper offered no specifics about Bishop's injury. He did say Bishop will not play Thursday night against Philadelphia _ which was a scheduled game off _ and that plans to call up another goalie were already in the works before the injury.
"Let's just wait and see what happens here,'' Cooper said. "No sense in speculating. He's either going to be ready to go or he's not. I'm really confident in what we have, especially after watching the performance tonight.''
Victor Hedman had an empty-net goal late in the third for the Lightning, who trail Montreal by two points for second place in the Atlantic Division. Bishop turned aside three shots before departing.
Palat put the Lightning up 1-0 when he beat Reimer from the top of the left circle 9:19 into the second.
Tampa Bay went up 2-0 during a power play when Palat, positioned near the post, scored after Steven Stamkos sent the puck off the boards behind the net with 4:15 left in the second.
Lindback made a nifty glove save on Jake Gardiner's shot late in the second.
"Tonight wasn't a surprise for us that he came in and was huge,'' Hedman said. "He made those key saves when we needed him.''
NOTES: Lightning D Sami Salo left after two shifts in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Toronto C Dave Bolland (ankle) was scratched. The Maple Leafs were already without G Jonathan Bernier (knee) and RW Joffrey Lupul, who had what the team called successful arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday. Stamkos is the Lightning nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. Palat has three goals and six points during a four-game point streak. The Maple Leafs recalled RW Carter Ashton and G Drew MacIntyre from Toronto of the AHL.