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Lightning strikes to trounce wilting Leafs

TORONTO (Reuters) - The Tampa Bay Lightning swept their season series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with an emphatic 6-2 victory on Monday, the win reviving their pursuit of the Southeast Division crown.

Mattias Ritola scored back-to-back goals in the second period to help the visitors pull within three points of the division-leading Washington Capitals.

Tampa Bay (39-22-9) had lost six of their previous seven matches to surrender control of the division, but looked rejuvenated in beating Toronto for the fourth and final time this season.

"We knew they've been fighting hard lately and can smell blood because the playoffs are getting closer," Lightning coach Guy Boucher told reporters of the Maple Leafs.

"Today we got secondary scoring. That's why we are where we are right now."

Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson scored the game's opening goal in the first period, Teddy Purcell chipped in three assists and goaltender Dwayne Roloson made 30 saves in the triumph.

Dion Phaneuf and Nikolai Kulemin scored for the Maple Leafs (30-30-10), who remain six points behind the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto is looking to make the post-season for the first time since 2004 but has lost four of their last five games.

"We didn't get pucks on and get enough shots through," said Maple Leafs forward Mike Brown. "We did that a little bit, but we needed to step it up."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)