Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-2-3); Toronto (3-4-3)
Season Series: Tonight marks the second of four meetings between the two clubs. The Bolts gathered two points on Nov. 3 at the Air Canada Centre with a 2-1 overtime victory that signified their first win on the road in 2009-10. Vincent Lecavalier scored for the Lightning, as did Ryan Malone who netted the game-winner. Antero Niittymaki stopped 40 shots on 41 against and was named the game’s first star. The Leafs will return to the Times Forum after the first of the year on Jan. 21 with Tampa Bay wrapping up the set on Mar. 11 in Toronto.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay still remains as the Eastern Conference’s only unbeaten team at home this year in regulation, posting a 5-0-4 record, and is just one of two teams in the entire league to accomplish the feat. The Lightning are also tied for a league-best with three other clubs who hold the least amount of overall regulation losses with five. The Bolts have recorded 13 points in their previous nine games and look to extend their home winning trend with a victory over the Maple Leafs who come in having lost six of their last seven. In addition, Tampa Bay is 6-0-2 versus the Maple Leafs since Dec. 10, 2007.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay returns home to the Times Forum after their second consecutive successful road trip in which the team picked up five out of a possible eight points. The last two tallies came on Sunday at Philips Arena when the Lightning won a crucial overtime game against Atlanta that kept them ahead of the Thrashers in the division race. Tampa Bay outshot Atlanta 40-31 and ended its stretch of 10 consecutive games getting outshot by the opposition. Antero Niittymaki, who stopped 28 shots on Sunday, is 6-1-3 with the league’s second-best goals-against average at 2.02 and is also 2-3-0 with a 2.59 GAA in five career starts against the Maple Leafs, while teammate Mike Smith is inching closer to his 50th career win.
MAPLE LEAFS - Looking for their second set of back-to-back wins this season, the Maple Leafs lost for the sixth time in seven games on Monday to the Islanders, despite firing 61 shots on goal. The total resulted in the most shots taken by Toronto since it also had 61 in an 8-0 victory over Detroit on Feb. 25, 1976. The Leafs will be tested in goal as well. Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala, who made 12 saves Monday before leaving the game in the second period with a groin injury, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. Goaltender Joey MacDonald who is 0-3-0 with a 3.35 GAA this season was recalled from AHL Toronto to fill his roster spot, while rookie net minder Jonas Gustavsson is 0-2-2 with a 4.86 GAA in his last four games.
- Martin St. Louis has recorded four assists and six total points in his last four games and Ryan Malone has ten points in his last seven.
- Toronto’s Jason Blake has tallied four points in his last five games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING- Mattias Ohlund (lower body, day-to-day); MAPLE LEAFS- Mike Komisarek (leg, placed on Injured Reserve), Vesa Toskala (knee, placed on Injured Reserve), Mike Van Ryn (knee, out for season).
Quotable: “It’s a big confidence boost. The last three games have definitely been a step up.” – Goaltender Mike Smith, on both his personal performance, as well as the team’s, on last week’s successful road trip.
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