Lightning (38-22-9, 85 Points) at Maple Leafs (30-29-10, 70 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (4-4-2); Toronto (5-2-3)
Season Series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the clubs. Tampa Bay is going for the season series sweep tonight after winning the first three meetings, including two in a shutout. The Lightning earned victories on Nov. 9 and most recently on Jan. 25 in Tampa Bay, as well as an additional win in overtime at the Air Canada Centre that saw Simon Gagne net his first goal as a member of the Lightning.
The Big Story: Tampa Bay is 10-2-3 in its last 15 games versus the Maple Leafs, including 4-0-1 in its last five visits to the Air Canada Centre. The Bolts look to their recent history of success north of the border to snap a two-game losing streak that has put them five points behind Washington in the Southeast Division. Wins haven’t come easily for either team lately, as Tampa Bay has just one win in its past seven games, while Toronto has three in its past seven as well.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in the second game of its four-game road trip tonight, which includes the first of three games to be played against a Northeast Division opponent. The Bolts nearly got the trip off on the right foot Saturday night, but fell in the final seconds of overtime in a 4-3 loss to the Panthers. The Lightning overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit, getting a pair of late power-play goals from Vincent Lecavalier and Simon Gagne, but an odd-man rush between Steven Stamkos, who also had a power-play goal in the contest, and Martin St. Louis quickly turned the other way, allowing Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison to beat Mike Smith with the game’s winning goal with just 16 seconds remaining in the extra period.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto hosts the Lightning for the finale of a three-game home stand tonight. Toronto’s current record might not exactly be indicative of its play, as evidenced by the number of one-goal games played that could have gone either way. Much like the Lightning, the Maple Leafs have received their fair share of one-goal games this season, as 13 of the team’s last 15 contests have all been decided by just a single tally. That was the case with the team’s most recent outing, a 4-3 win over Buffalo Saturday night. A tight game through two periods quickly turned into a Toronto victory, as the Leafs got two late third-period goals from Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel who scored just 2:33 apart to overcome a one-goal deficit. James Reimer also had 39 saves in his 13th consecutive game in net for Toronto.
Who’s Hot: Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are each riding four-game point streaks with two goals and four assists in that span, while captain Vincent Lecavalier has nine goals in his last 15 games. Toronto’s Mikhail Grabovski leads the Leafs with four points in his last three, while Joffrey Lupul, Clarke MacArthur and Dion Phaneuf each come in with a pair of points in their last two games.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Ryan Malone (mid body, out indefinitely, placed on Injured Reserve), Steve Downie (lower body, day-to-day) and Randy Jones (lower body, out indefinitely). MAPLE LEAFS – Colton Orr (undisclosed, placed on Injured Reserve) and Fredrik Sjostrom (upper body).
Notable Quotable: “We gave everything we had. These are all good points now and we are missing all these points now, but we can’t not show up, and that's the lesson now.” – Guy Boucher, commenting on the importance of picking up a point in the team’s last game and how important it is to bring a strong effort every night, despite not getting results
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