TORONTO — Steven Stamkos wasted little time Tuesday night reintroducing himself to his home town.
The Tampa Bay centre, on his first shift of the game, beat Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen 79 seconds in on the Lightning's first shot. He added a second goal with 2:48 remaining in the period.
Stamkos, whom Toronto fans hoped might be wearing a Leafs uniform this season, announced his presence early by driving defenceman Connor Carrick into the boards. That drew some boos from the Air Canada Centre crowd.
Then, as the Leafs tried to clear the puck, defenceman Andrej Sustr swept the puck back into the Toronto end from the blue line. It went past two Leafs to Stamkos, who found himself alone on Andersen.
The Lightning captain deked the Dane for Tampa's first first-period goal of the season. Defenceman Matt Hunwick unwittingly helped knock the puck past Andersen as he made contact with Stamkos' stick from behind.
After an Alex Killorn goal, Stamkos made it 3-0 on another Sustr assist after some good recycling by Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov. Sustr, from the side boards, found Stamkos alone and the Tampa star, from outside the top of the right faceoff circle, hammered a high shot that rang off the bar into the goal past a screened Andersen for his fifth goal of the season.
In the second period, Stamkos tried to set up Victor Hedman with a nifty behind the back pass but Andersen made the save. Second later, Stamkos did get an assist when he sent the puck towards the goal. Namestnikov's shot was saved but Hedman tucked the rebound in for a 4-0 lead on Tampa's 11th shot.
Stamkos, a native of Markham, Ont., signed a US$68-million, eight-year deal in June — on the eve of free agency — to stay in Tampa.
The 26-year-old centre, who is making $9.5 million this season, had three goals and two assists in his first five games of the season prior to Toronto.
The Maple Leafs reportedly enlisted Mayor John Tory and the CEO of Canadian Tire in their unsuccessful bid to recruit Stamkos.
While it was Stamkos' first visit to the ACC this season with the Lightning, he had played there for Team Canada during the September World Cup.
Tuesday marked the second stop on a six-game Tampa road trip. Ten of the Lightning's next 14 games are away from home.