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Three defensemen score to help Maple Leafs top Lightning

Nov 2, 2006 - 3:20 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Ian White capped a solid offensive night for the Toronto Maple Leafs' defensemen.

White scored a tie-breaking power-play goal in the third period and Jeff O'Neill collected two assists to lead the Maple Leafs to a 4-2 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Toronto posted its first three-game winning streak of the campaign by receiving its first three goals by defensemen to win its first road contest against Tampa Bay since December 19, 2002.

"That was nice," Toronto defenseman Hal Gill said. "I don't care who scores as long as we get them. It was exciting (his first goal with the Maple Leafs and 100th career point). It's something I'll tell as a story when I'm old or gray, if that ever happens."

"It was a gutsy win," Maple Leafs right wing Darcy Tucker said. "We were struggling early. They came out at us the first 25-30 minutes. We had to stick with the program. It's good to see the young guys, especially Gill, get his first goal."

After Lightning blue-liner Cory Sarich was whistled for tripping midway through the third period, goaltender Marc Denis stopped Matt Stajan's bad-angle shot before White fired the rebound into the top left corner of the net to snap a 2-2 tie with 8:17 left.

"It's always nice seeing guys like Gill and myself contributing and ease the pressure off the forwards," White said. "We kept playing the same way for 60 minutes. Fortunately, we had enough gas in the tank."

"I'm excited for White," Gill said. "He battled in the third period and to see something come out of it was good. ... They came out hard in the first and we weathered the storm and turned it in our favor."

Playing his first season with Toronto after eight campaigns with the Boston Bruins, Gill evened the score at 1:51 of the third session with a blast from the left point that found the net between Denis' pads.

Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead at 6:24 of the second session when netminder Andrew Raycroft made a save on defenseman Paul Ranger's slap shot from the left faceoff circle before Vincent Lecavalier knocked the rebound inside the right goalpost.

Blue-liner Tomas Kaberle scored his fifth goal in the past three games for Toronto, firing O'Neill's centering pass between Denis' pads from a bad angle to tie the game, 1-1. It was his 300th career point.

"I think you can see a bit of confidence winning two in a row," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "Then our power play can be as dysfunctional in parts and we still win the game, score the game-winner. And that's what that game was all about. Fight through the rough parts."

Alexei Ponikarovsky added an empty-net goal with 1:20 left and Raycroft made 23 saves to raise his record to 6-4-2 for Toronto, which won for the fourth time in six road contests this season.

"We know what (the defensemen) can do, whether they score four goals or don't get on the scoresheet," Raycroft said. "I think some of them would rather go on unnoticed. They're not worried about scoring."

Brad Richards scored his second goal of the season and Denis stopped 25 shots for the Lightning, who have lost three in a row.

"We lost our aggression," Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella said. "That's why we killed the penalties off. We had a chance twice on the wall to put pressure on and we let them play. We didn't do the job."






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