The second period was a much better period for the Leafs, who out-shot the Lightning 13-7, but Bolts goaltender Dan Ellis had no problem making a number of huge, point-blank saves to keep the Leafs off the board.
Into the third period, Steven Stamkos got his league-leading 13th goal of the season 5:46 in, putting the Lightning ahead 4-0 on a scramble in front of the net. It was more then enough, as Ellis closed the door on Toronto with his second shutout of the year.
"We believe in what we are doing here," said Lightning center Dominic Moore. "Obviously you are going to run into patches here where things don't bounce your way. I thought, for instance, the L.A. game, the team played well but didn't get the result. We have got to continue to focus on improvement and things will take care of themselves."
The Lightning showed much more attention to detail on home ice, killing off an early 5-on-3 Toronto power play, and playing great defense in front of Ellis in support of the shutout. And after the not-so-stellar performances on the road of late, it was fair to consider this game a must-win, even if you don't get everyone to agree with that sentiment.
"I think every game is a must win," said Tampa Bay forward Nate Thompson. "There is so much parity in the league that you have to look at it like you want to win every game, and that's the mindset you have to have. We have great character in this room, we have a great group of guys; everyone is close, we are tight, we stick together and you could see that tonight in our game. We bounced back, everyone contributed tonight and that is what we need."
Lightning head coach Guy Boucher was very aware of the importance of this first game at home after a long trip and was pleased with what he saw out of the team.
"It was huge; as you can see, our guys took it very seriously," Boucher said. "We came out in the first period strong, we wanted to come out in the first period strong and have a solid power play and penalty kill. I think that was the game plan. We put it in place and I think the guys responded extremely well."
The Lightning head back out on the road to take on Pittsburgh and Washington on Thursday and Friday nights before returning to the home ice on Sunday to take on the Minnesota Wild.