Through the first month of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been hampered by inconsistency. The same can be said of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Maple Leafs look to run their first winning streak of the season to three games when they open a three-game road trip against the Lightning on Wednesday.
Darcy Tucker scored two of his team's three power-play goals during an 86-second span of the first period in a 4-2 victory over visiting Atlanta on Monday, giving Toronto back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
"It was not our best and we got away with it," Tucker said after the Leafs were held to a season-low 22 shots. "We battled but we did not play the way we wanted to. We need to be better and to do that we have to skate more."
The two straight victories for Toronto followed a three-game losing streak that concluded with a pair of defeats to Ottawa by a combined 13-4 score.
Tucker is on pace for a career season with a team-leading nine goals, including seven on the power play, tied with Atlanta's Marian Hossa for the league lead. Tucker scored a career-best 28 goals last season.
"I'm fortunate to play on the power play with some good players," Tucker said. "The puck has gone in early in the year, and that's it. Nothing more than that."
Monday's victory also was a bounce-back performance for Toronto goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who turned aside 31 of 33 shots after allowing a combined 12 goals over five periods in consecutive losses to the Senators. Raycroft, in his first season with the Leafs, is 3-1-1 with a 2.74 goals-against average lifetime against Tampa Bay.
Toronto defenseman Tomas Kaberle has been hot with four goals, another in a shootout, and two assists in his last two games.
Tampa Bay hopes to avoid a third straight loss after falling 4-2 to visiting San Jose on Sunday.
Just 11 games into the season, the Lightning already have had a three-game winning streak and a three-game losing streak. Their six losses in October are the franchise's most since the start of the 2001-02 season.
Sunday's defeat followed another slow start by Tampa Bay, which has trailed after the first period in eight off 11 games this season and been outscored 15-5 in the opening 20 minutes.
"The textbook game is still to go get the lead, extend that lead and play simple and play through it," goaltender Marc Denis said. "Unfortunately that's something we have only been able to do a couple of times."
Center Vincent Lecavalier scored one goal and set up another in Sunday's loss, giving him four goals and three assists during a five-game point streak. Right wing Martin St. Louis also has been producing with six goals and two assists in his five-game streak.
While Lecavalier and St. Louis have been hot, forward Brad Richards and top defenseman Dan Boyle are struggling. Richards has one goal this season, while Boyle has yet to score after registering a career-high 15 goals in 2005-06.
The Leafs went 2-1-1 against the Lightning last season, but are winless in their last four visits to Tampa Bay.
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