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Kadri has goal, assist; Maple Leafs play spoiler role and beat Lightning 3-1

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TORONTO — Loud music could be heard from all around the Toronto Maple Leafs' dressing room after a most-satisfying win.

The struggling Maple Leafs have won two straight, but this was just their eighth victory in 39 games during 2015.

Backed by James Reimer's 40-save performance, the Maple Leafs played the role of spoilers again with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting on Tuesday night.

Reimer had helped Toronto to a 4-3 overtime victory against Ottawa on Saturday.

It's only the second time the Maple Leafs (29-42-6) have posted back-to-back wins since mid-December.

"We've worked hard and we've played with integrity," Reimer said. "You know, it shows out there.

"When you play that way, sometimes you might lose but at least you lose well and you can keep your chin up. The way we've been playing here, obviously I always believed we had it in us and unfortunately it never came to fruition when it really counted."

Reimer also spoke out in early February when the team slumped to an 11th straight loss.

"We have to smarten up and play with passion, play like men, play with resolve. We don't have that right now," he said at the time.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and assist, and the Maple Leafs topped the Lightning, who won at Montreal on Monday to secure its playoff berth.

Tampa Bay fell behind 2-0 after a sluggish spell midway through the first period.

PHOTO: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) scores past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) as Lightning's Anton Stralman (6) looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri (43) scores past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) as Lightning's Anton Stralman (6) looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

Kadri's goal at 8:53 marked the first time the Maple Leafs (29-42-6) had the lead in a game in 541:08 of action.

David Booth and Morgan Rielly also scored for Toronto.

"It's just fun when you're winning, that's really the bottom line," Kadri said. "Everything that we've been through, it's hard. I think realistically in the end, that makes you stronger as a person and as a player, just being able to handle all that adversity. It came all at once, so it's not like it was in separate pieces.

"You've got to give credit to the guys, for showing some character and just being able to persevere."

Ryan Callahan scored for Tampa Bay, which has lost three of four on its road trip.

"It's a tough one. We didn't play very well," Lightning star Steven Stamkos said. "Back-to-back games, injuries, you could say all you want, but I still think we could've won that game, if we played the way we know how to win."

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman left Monday's game and joined an injury list that already included defensemen Jason Garrison, Andrej Sustr and Braydon Coburn, and center Tyler Johnson.

That meant an NHL debut for Syracuse call-up Slater Koekkoek, a defenseman who played with Rielly for Saskatchewan's Notre Dame Hounds.

Toronto's call-ups continued to tick off firsts. Defenseman T.J. Brennan, with an assist, recorded his first point with the Maple Leafs, and forward Sam Carrick had his first NHL fight, a spirited first-period tilt with J.T. Brown.

Tampa Bay's 5-3 win on Monday completed a five-game sweep of the Canadiens. The Lightning also set a franchise record for wins (47). Only 17 of those victories have come away from home.

The Lightning, with 101 points, are one behind Montreal for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay still leads the NHL in regulation and overtime wins (45) as well as goals scored (250).

NOTES: Toronto will visit Buffalo on Wednesday. The Lightning will play Thursday at Ottawa. ... There was a moment of silence before the game to honor Carley Allison, who died Tuesday at 19 of lung cancer. Allison sang the national anthem in Toronto for a Hockey Fights Cancer night in November.

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PHOTO: Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, right, stops a shot as Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan (24) looks on during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)
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