Lightning (13-15-1, 27 Points) at Maple Leafs (15-12-2, 32 Points)
TV/Radio: Sun Sports HD; AM 970 WFLA
This is the second of three meetings between the teams. The Bolts won the first matchup 4-2 on February 19 at the Times Forum powered by Benoit Pouliot’s three-point performance. The two teams will face off again for the final time this season on April 24 in Tampa Bay.
The Big Story:
Tampa Bay has won its past two road games and will be looking for its first three-game road winning streak since March 26 to April 3, 2011. Recent history seems to be favoring the Lightning too when it comes to accomplishing that goal, as the Bolts have picked up points in eight of their past nine games against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, going 5-1-3 during that stretch. Toronto, meanwhile, has dropped five straight and seeks to avoid extending its season-high losing streak to six games.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay kicks off a three-game road swing Wednesday through Canada, which wraps up over the weekend with back-to-back contests against Ottawa and Winnipeg, respectively. The Bolts are coming off back-to-back victories for the first time since earning a pair of wins on February 16 and 19, respectively, and appear to be gaining steam as the Lightning sit just five points behind New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The young stars led the way again for Tampa Bay in its most recent contest on Monday against Philadelphia, a 4-2 win over the Flyers. Ondrej Palat and Tom Pyatt scored through the first 40 minutes, but it was Teddy Purcell’s goal at 9:25 of the third that stood up as the game-winner after snapping a 2-2 tie. Steven Stamkos added an empty-net tally with three seconds remaining to notch his 200th career goal, becoming the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to do so, while Anders Lindback made 28 saves and did not allow more than two goals in a game for the sixth consecutive outing.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto plays in the finale of a three-game homestand Wednesday after dropping each of the first two contests to kick off the swing. After a hot start and being able to generate some consistency in maintaining that same level of play, not much has gone right with Toronto since. The Maple Leafs have lost five straight games and not only have slipped down to fourth place in the division behind Ottawa, but also is in danger of falling out of the top eight as far as the playoff picture is concerned. Toronto is currently in sixth, but only has 32 points, which his tied with New Jersey, which is in eighth. Fortunately the Maple Leafs did earn a point in their most recent outing, a 5-4 shootout loss to Winnipeg on Saturday. After taking a 1-0 lead through 20 minutes, the Maple Leafs allowed four goals in the second frame, but somehow still managed to only find themselves down by a goal heading into the final period. Toronto did end up tying the game and ensuring themselves at least one point by sending it to overtime and then a shootout, but couldn’t cash in during the tiebreaker to fall just short following a valiant come-from-behind effort.
Martin St. Louis has recorded a point in nine of his past 10 games and has registered four multi-point efforts in his past eight contests. Steven Stamkos has also scored goals in four of his past six games for the Lightning, and both Teddy Purcell and Ondrej Palat have recorded goals in two straight. For Toronto, Phil Kessel has four goals and seven points over a four-game point streak and Tyler Bozak has recorded two points in as many games.
LIGHTNING – Benoit Pouliot (Upper Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Vincent Lecavalier (Lower Body, Placed On Injured Reserve), Ryan Malone (Upper Body, Out Indefinitely) and Victor Hedman (Upper Body, Day-To-Day). MAPLE LEAFS – None.
Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie appeared in 57 games with Toronto throughout his NHL career prior to being acquired by the Lightning towards the tail end of the 2011-12 season.
Twitter Stat Pack:
Anders Lindback has compiled a record of 3-2-0 over his past four games, registering a 1.81 goals-against average and .941 save percentage during that span.
Radko Gudas has recorded 19 hits over his past three games.
Steven Stamkos ranks tied for fifth in the NHL with seven power play goals.
Of the 13 game-winning goals this season by the Lightning, six of them have been recorded by a rookie.
Tyler Johnson hasn't lost a faceoff over his past two games, going 14-for-14 during that stretch.
“Our players never quit. They've got character and they're still fighting.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, on how his team continues to fight for a playoff spot following two straight wins
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