NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 15th
(All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (30-32-8) at Tampa Bay Lightning (32-30-7), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning will try to
build off an impressive win over the defending Stanley Cup champions when they
host a lost Toronto Maple Leafs club tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
The Lightning ended a three-game slide (0-2-1) with Tuesday's 6-1 thrashing of
the Boston Bruins. It was the fifth victory in eight games for Tampa Bay,
which enters today seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern
Stamkos became the first player to reach 50 goals this season, picking up a
pair of scores in the rout of the visiting Bruins. The 22-year-old Stamkos
also made his mark as the sixth player in league history to score at least 50
goals in a season twice before turning 23, joining Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky,
Mario Lemieux, Joe Nieuwendyk and Alex Ovechkin.
"It was definitely in the back of my mind. It was a special night," said
Stamkos, who set a career-high with 51 goals in 2009-10.
Stamkos will likely win the Rocket Richard Trophy for a second time this year,
as he is currently 12 goals ahead of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the league
lead with less than a month left in the regular season.
Tom Pyatt, Nate Thompson and Ryan Shannon all tallied in the first five
minutes for the Lightning. Dustin Tokarski earned his first NHL victory,
stopping a career-best 33 shots for Tampa.
Tonight marks the third test of a seven-game homestand for the Lightning, who
are 21-11-2 in Tampa this year compared to an 11-19-5 road record.
It's hard to believe the Maple Leafs were the seventh seed in the East just
over a month ago, but Toronto's dreadful 2-13-2 mark currently has the club 10
points out of a playoff spot with just 12 games left.
Toronto lost its fifth straight game (0-4-1) and fell to 0-2 on a five-game
road trip after getting slammed 5-2 by the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The
Maple Leafs at least scored twice after getting shut out in its previous two
Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski had the goals for Toronto, while James
Reimer stopped 22 shots in the loss.
The Maple Leafs are just 14-19-2 as the guest this year and will visit Ottawa
and Boston to close their current swing.
Toronto has had the Lightning's number this season, as the Leafs scored seven
goals in each of their two wins over Tampa Bay this season. They posted a 7-1
win in Tampa on Nov. 22 and notched a 7-3 home victory on Jan. 3.
The clubs will cap the season series on April 5 in Toronto.
03/15 10:54:43 ET