Lightning (7-6-1, 15 Points) vs. Maple Leafs (10-6-0, 20 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
It’s the first of three meetings between the clubs. Last season, the Bolts went 0-3-1 against Toronto in four matchups, including a mark of 0-2-0 at home. The teams will meet again on March 20 in Toronto and on April 24 in Tampa Bay.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay snapped its season-high six-game winless streak with a thrilling 6-5 overtime victory on Saturday afternoon against Florida, giving the team momentum coming home, where it is 5-2-1 this season. Toronto, meanwhile, has won six of its past seven to climb up the Northeast Division standings, as the Maple Leafs are tied with Boston in second place, just one point behind the Montreal Canadiens at the top of the division.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will kick off a two-game homestand this week, playing Tuesday and Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before hitting the road for a weekend back-to-back set against Carolina and Pittsburgh, respectively. For a second time in their past three games, the Lightning fought back from a multi-goal deficit to claim at least a point in the standings, as they defeated the in-state rival Panthers 6-5 to break a six-game losing skid on Saturday afternoon. Down by a pair of goals in the final period, Steven Stamkos scored to cut the deficit to one before finding Teddy Purcell with a perfect pass in the high slot that led to the tying goal with just 11 seconds left. Benoit Pouliot then chipped in the game-winner 1:19 into overtime for the victory, which accounted for his second goal of the game. Anders Lindback also made 25 saves in his first game back from illness, while the Lightning’s offense has seemed to return from its early-season form, totaling 12 goals over the team’s past three games.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto concludes a back-to-back set through the Sunshine State, as the team kicked off the two-game tilt last night in Sunrise against the Panthers. The Maple Leafs have been surging as of late, and Monday night was again no exception. Toronto bested the Panthers 3-0 to win its second in a row and record its second consecutive shutout. Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur each scored, and Ben Scrivens stopped all 37 shots he faced in the victory.
Tampa Bay’s Vincent Lecavalier has recorded a point in four straight games, while Benoit Pouliot has notched four goals and nine points over his last nine games and tied his career-high with a two-goal performance on Saturday at Florida. For Toronto, Dion Phaneuf has two goals and four assists during a five-game points streak. Nazem Kadri also has two goals and three assists in his last four games.
LIGHTNING – Matt Taormina (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve) and Ryan Malone (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve). MAPLE LEAFS – Carl Gunnarsson (Hip), Matt Frattin (Knee) and Joffrey Lupul (Forearm).
Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Kostka proved instrumental in Tampa Bay’s minor-league system last season, winning an American Hockey League Calder Cup championship alongside Lightning forwards Cory Conacher, Alex Killorn and Richard Panik, as well as Bolts defenseman Keith Aulie, as members of the Norfolk Admirals. Aulie also appeared in 57 games with Toronto throughout his NHL career prior to being acquired by the Lightning.
Twitter Stat Pack:
Tampa Bay ranks seventh in the league as a team in faceoff percentage at 52.2 percent.
Tampa Bay has scored 45 goals over their past 10 games, while the Maple Leafs haven't allowed a goal in two straight games.
Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos rank second in the NHL for assists among teammate pairs with 29, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Sami Salo and Victor Hedman are both tied for eighth in the league lead with +10 ratings. Steven Stamkos has recorded a point in four of his past five games against Toronto, tallying a pair of goals and three assists during that span.
Martin St. Louis is currently on a three-game point streak against the Maple Leafs dating back to last season, notching two goals and two assists.
“I was impressed. We did a lot of good things, really a lot of good things, and our top guys showed the way. It was good, but at the same time we’d like to have the ability to turn things on in the first and not always have to rely on our character when we’re trailing for whatever reason.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, speaking on behalf of Saturday’s come-from-behind 6-5 overtime win against the Panthers
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