By The Associated Press
TORONTO — Steven Stamkos was in a much better mood after the Tampa Bay’s latest effort and an 11-point night from the Lightning’s top line.
Nikita Kucherov scored twice and finished with four points, Brayden Point had two goals and an assist in his season debut and the Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Thursday night.
Stamkos added a goal and three assists and Ondrej Palat also scored for Tampa Bay.
Anthony Cirelli had three assists and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves as the Lightning snapped a two-game slide.
Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist, and John Tavares and Andreas Johnsson also scored for Toronto.
“We just didn’t execute at a very high level,” Tavares said. “That kind of effort isn’t going to win us many hockey games.”
Frederik Andersen allowed seven goals on 28 shots before being replaced by Michael Hutchinson seven minutes into the third period. Hutchinson had five saves.
The teams combined for seven goals and 27 shots in a wild opening 20 minutes, but the Lightning took charge from there.
“After that crazy first period we really settled down and we defended really well,” Stamkos said. “If we can play like we did tonight, you can see what happened.”
Tampa Bay’s top line of Point, Stamkos and Kucherov — which had 318 points last season — finished with 11 points Thursday in their first action together this season.
“We can shut really elite teams down by skating and competing,” Stamkos said. “Those are the two things we talked about.
“It was a great response.”
The Lightning were coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at Carolina on Sunday. In that game, the Hurricanes built a 44-13 advantage in shots.
Following a wild first period that saw a combined seven goals, 27 total shots and a 4-3 lead for the Lightning, the Leafs pushed back in the second.
But Point — who missed a chunk of training camp before signing a three-year, $20.25 million contract as a restricted free agent and then sat out the Lightning’s first three games following offseason hip surgery — scored his second goal of the game.