Steven Stamkos, playing Wednesday in his hometown for the first time since suffering a broken leg, registered a hat trick, naturally.

Stamkos registered his seventh career hat trick with three consecutive goals for the natural hat trick as Tampa Bay beat Toronto 5-3 at Air Canada Centre.

Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist while Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Malone each had two assists as the Lightning won their fourth consecutive game and improved to 4-0-2 in the past six. Ben Bishop finished with 37 saves, including 22 in the third period.

Jake Gardiner, Nikolai Kulemin and Phil Kessel all scored for Toronto while James Reimer finished with 25 saves.

Tampa Bay pulled three points ahead of the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division standings and moved into second place in the division ahead of Montreal. The Lightning have a game in hand on the Canadiens and two games in hand on Toronto with 14 games remaining in the regular season.

In a game with playoff implications, it started out as hardly anything but a playoff game.

Radko Gudas opened the scoring in the opening minute when he threw a wrist shot off a faceoff win by Filppula that slipped by Reimer before he ever saw it at 59 seconds.

But Toronto came steaming right back and had the Lightning defense scrambling around their own net that allowed Kessel to be wide open to one-time a pass from Carl Gunnarsson into the open side of the net at 3:31 to tie the game. The Maple Leafs took the lead at 10:32 when Kulemin, in the middle of the left circle, deflected a pass from Tim Gleason that eluded Bishop and sneaked under his pads to give Toronto the lead.