Season Series: The Bolts and Leafs face off in the first of four total meetings set to take place during the regular season. Last year, Tampa Bay swept Toronto in four straight games, including two by shutout, while outscoring the Maple Leafs by a combined score of 16-5 in those contests.
The Big Story: Two of the NHL’s top goal scorers face off Tuesday night, as both Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Toronto’s Phil Kessel look to get their respective clubs back on the winning track following a pair of losses over the weekend. Kessel leads the league with 16 goals, while Stamkos is five behind him with 11 on the year for the Bolts, who come into the game with wins in six of their past seven tries at the St. Pete Times Forum.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays in the final contest of a three-game home stand. Following the bout with their neighbors north of the border, the Lightning will enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday before kicking off a home and home series with the division-rival Panthers on Friday in Sunrise. Coming into its most recent outing on Saturday night, which saw the return of forward Ryan Malone from injury, Tampa Bay was in the midst of enjoying a six-game home win streak, tied for the third-longest in franchise history. Unfortunately for the Bolts, the run came to an end following a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. After falling behind 3-0 early, the Lightning rallied to come within one in the final stages of regulation, getting a pair of goals just 90 seconds apart from Martin St. Louis and Ryan Shannon. Just when it appeared another come-from-behind win might be in store, Devils’ forward Ryan Carter put the game away with a goal into an empty net that saw the remarkable streak come to a halt.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto continues on its four-game road trip, making its second stop on the tour in Tampa Bay. The Maple Leafs have struggled to find consistency as of late, as a brief two-game win streak was followed by a stretch in which it won just one game of the next six that followed. Overall, the Leafs have victories in just four of their past 10. The most recent defeat came Sunday against Southeast opponent Carolina, in which Phil Kessel increased his NHL lead in goals with a pair, but it wasn’t enough to overcome two two-goal deficits throughout the night. The reasons for the loss following the game ranged from having played the second game of a back-to-back set, to the fact that Toronto is injury plagued and was missing seven regulars out of its lineup. All things considered, the Leafs have done fairly well to stay afloat, as they come in tied for first place atop the Northeast Division with the Buffalo Sabres, each with 24 points on the year.
Who’s Hot: For Tampa Bay, Steve Downie has points in two straight and Martin St. Louis has two goals in his past three games. Steven Stamkos, despite being held off the score sheet on Saturday against New Jersey, comes in with five goals in his past seven games. Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel leads the NHL with 16 goals this season and has three over his past two matches, while teammate Joffrey Lupul has a goal and four assists in his past two games.
LIGHTNING – Mattias Ohlund (knee, placed on Injured Reserve).
MAPLE LEAFS – Mikhail Grabovski (lower body), Clarke MacArthur (upper body), Mike Komisarek (broken arm), Colby Armstrong (ankle sprain) and Matthew Lombardi (upper body).
Notable Quotable: “Defensively, he's got to do better. He's 19 years old, but after two months he's got to be accountable, same as the other players. As an organization, we have a choice. We can let him go and play offense and reap the negative aspects of that three or four years down the road, or we take care of it now. There's no more, 'You're a kid, you can make all those mistakes.' You can't, period.” – Guy Boucher, on his assessment of rookie forward Brett Connolly
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