Lightning - Maple Leafs Preview
The Bolts and Leafs conclude the four-game season set Thursday night. Toronto has taken each of the first three meetings on the year, outscoring Tampa Bay 17-5 in those contests. Last season the Lightning swept the Maple Leafs in four straight games, however come Thursday, the Bolts will look to avoid having the tables turned on them at the Air Canada Centre.
The Big Story:
The Lightning had their two-game win streak snapped Wednesday night but will attempt to get back on the winning track Thursday as they complete the second half of a back-to-back set. With two games remaining in the regular season, Tampa Bay is looking to finish strong perhaps just as much as Steven Stamkos
is seeking to reach the 60-goal plateau. With a league-best 58 goals, the Lightning forward is just two shy of reaching the mark, which would make him the league’s first 60-goal scorer since Alex Ovechkin in 2007-08.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay will play in the second half of a back-to-back set, as well as the rubber match of its three-game road trip, which concludes the regular season on Saturday. The Lightning kicked off a three-game road trip Wednesday night, but things didn’t quite get off on the right foot as the team had hoped. Vincent Lecavalier
scored his first goal since coming back from injury to erase an early one-goal deficit, and Bruno Gervais
also had a goal to bring the Lightning to within one against the Canadiens, but the Bolts surrendered the final two goals of the game in succession to allow Montreal to pull ahead and take the contest by a 5-2 score. Sebastien Caron
made 20 saves on 25 shots on the night, while Tampa Bay managed to record just 16 shots of its own on the night.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto will compete in its final home game of the regular season before concluding the 2011-12 campaign on the road in Montreal on Saturday. The Maple Leafs have dropped four of the past five, including a 6-5 overtime loss to Buffalo on Tuesday night that helped the Sabres pull into a tie with Washington for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Tyler Bozak and Matt Frattin put the Maple Leafs out to a 3-0 first-period lead, only to surrender it by allowing two Sabres goals in the second and an additional three in the final period before falling in the extra frame.
For the Lightning, Victor Hedman
is riding a five-game point streak with six points in that span, while Steven Stamkos
comes in with points in six of his past seven contests and is just two shy of reaching the 60-goal mark. Toronto’s Phil Kessel has four points in his past two outings for the Maple Leafs.
LIGHTNING - Mattias Ohlund
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Dana Tyrell
(knee, out for season, placed on Injured Reserve), Marc-Andre Bergeron
(upper body, out for season), Mathieu Garon
(torn groin muscle, out 3-4 weeks), Adam Hall
(upper body, day-to-day) and Ryan Shannon
(upper body, out for season).
MAPLE LEAFS – James Reimer (upper body), Jonas Gustavsson (lower body), Joffrey Lupul (shoulder), Nikolai Kulemin (finger), David Steckel (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (leg).
“He had to adapt, and that's the mark of a very great athlete. He's worked real hard at being around the net for tips, rebounds, jams. And instead of being too far on the outside taking shots, he's taking those extra steps to get inside the dots and shoot while he's striding.” – Lightning head coach Guy Boucher, as told to the Tampa Bay Times, on the evolution of Steven Stamkos
Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie
and Maple Leafs forward Carter Ashton
were traded for each other at this year's trade deadline. Aulie played his first 57 NHL games with the Maple Leafs prior to his trade to the Lightning, arriving in Toronto during the 2009-10 as part of the same deal in which the Leafs acquired Dion Phaneuf from Calgary. Ashton, a first-round Lightning draft pick in 2009, never played an NHL game with Tampa Bay, but had 35 points (19g, 16a) in 56 games with the team’s top affiliate in Norfolk this season prior to the trade.