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Lightning (13-8-3, 29 Points) at Maple Leafs (8-11-3, 19 Points)
Last 10: Tampa Bay (5-4-1); Toronto (3-6-1)
Season Series: The two clubs meet for the second time this season. They last met on Nov. 9 at the St. Pete Times Forum where Dan Ellis made 28 saves to help the Lightning earn a 4-0 shutout. Steven Stamkos also added two goals in the victory against his hometown team.
The Big Story: Steven Stamkos always seems to do well in his native town. In four career games played at the Air Canada Centre, the Lightning forward has a goal and four points to go along with 13 points overall in nine total games played against the Maple Leafs. The 13-point total is his second-highest against any current NHL team after Atlanta. Stamkos has not scored a goal in two straight, and will attempt to avoid his first three-game goal drought for the first time since going five straight without finding the back of the net from Mar. 12-20 of last season. Tampa Bay is also 5-0-0 in its last five games against a Northeast Division opponent.
LIGHTNING – Tampa Bay plays its first of two games on the road this week, with the team traveling to Boston on Thursday to take on the Bruins. Following a season-high five-game win streak, the Lightning are trying to regain form after falling in two straight. The team was shutout in Washington the day after Thanksgiving before squandering a two-goal lead in front of the home crowd two nights later in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Panthers. Despite the misfortune, forward Martin St. Louis was pleased with the effort and took solace in the fact that the team did earn a point, and battled hard to get one as Sean Bergenheim tied the game with seven minutes remaining in regulation to send the game into the tiebreaker.
MAPLE LEAFS – Toronto hosts Tampa Bay in the first of a three-game home set after suffering two straight losses on the road in Ottawa and Buffalo on consecutive nights. The Maple Leafs have lost three of the last four and score no more than a single goal in all of those contests. Toronto is looking to turn around its scoring drought which has been a problem all season, as it enters tonight’s game with the league’s third-lowest total of goals scored with just 48. The Maple Leafs are also coming off a stretch in which they were shutout in two of their last four contests. Toronto has, however, been much better recently at home, scoring 12 goals to win three straight there. The Leafs are 6-for-12 on the power play during that run while holding the opposition scoreless in six chances.
Who’s Hot: The Lightning’s Teddy Purcell has four goals and 10 points in his last 10 games and Mattias Ritola has an assist in two of his last three. Ryan Malone has two goals and two assists in his last three games, while Steven Stamkos has five points in his last four. Toronto’s Kris Versteeg and Nikolai Kulemin each have two points in their last three.
Injury Report: LIGHTNING – Simon Gagne (neck, placed on Injured Reserve), Vincent Lecavalier (hand, placed on Injured Reserve) and Matt Smaby (ankle, placed on Injured Reserve). MAPLE LEAFS – Colby Armstrong (finger, out 4-6 weeks), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (out 1-2 weeks) and Dion Phaneuf (leg, out 4-6 weeks).
Quotable: “We know what we've got to do. We're going to tough places in Toronto and Boston, and like we did the last time coming off the tough West Coast swing, when we didn't have the results we wanted, we battled back and went on that little streak here. We know what it takes, and we're looking forward to getting it going there.” – Teddy Purcell, on the team’s upcoming road trip
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