Leafs Prep For Lightning Strike
GAME: Tampa Bay Lightning (13-9-4-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (17-6-5-3).TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, looking to extend their point streak to 12 games, face a team they've beaten eight straight times when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Toronto beat the New York Rangers 3-1 on Saturday for its second consecutive win, and improved to 10-0-0-1 in its last 11 contests. The Leafs haven't lost in regulation since a 3-2 road defeat to the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 20.
Against the Rangers, Mikael Renberg scored twice and had an assist as Toronto improved to 6-0-0-1 in its last seven games at Air Canada Centre.
Gary Roberts added a goal and two assists for the Leafs, who moved within a point of the Philadelphia Flyers for the NHL's best record.
"That's great. We feel good about that," Renberg said. "With the group of guys that we have in this locker room, I don't think anybody is going to be satisfied with where we are now. We just have to keep going."
The Leafs will try to keep it going against a Tampa Bay club it has defeated eight consecutive times since a 3-2 loss on March 15, 2001.
The Lightning come into this contest with a season high-tying three straight defeats, and with just two wins in their last 11 games (2-7-2). Tampa Bay had only three losses in its first 16 games of the season.
"We are not the same team we were at the start of the year right now," center Tim Taylor said after Tampa Bay's 5-2 home loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. "When a bad bounce goes the opposite way of us, our heads just seem to go down instead of shake it off.
"Right now we have to get back to getting upset, a little angry and a lot more desperation. I think that's what we have to do more instead of feeling sorry for ourselves."
STANDINGS: Lightning - 31 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Southeast Division. Maple Leafs - 42 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Lightning - Cory Stillman and Vincent Lecavalier, 10 goals; Martin St. Louis, 15 assists and 21 points; Chris Dingman, 73 PIM. Maple Leafs - Mats Sundin, 11 goals, 19 assists and 30 points; Owen Nolan, 71 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 14): Lightning - Power play: 14.1 percent (18 for 128), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.6 percent (92 for 105), 2nd. Maple Leafs - Power play: 16.7 percent (26 for 156), 9th. Penalty killing: 84.9 percent (135 for 159), 16th.
GOALTENDERS: Lightning - Nikolai Khabibulin (9-6-3, 2 SO, 2.09 GAA); John Grahame (4-4-1, 1, 1.86). Maple Leafs - Ed Belfour (14-9-3, 3, 2.30); Trevor Kidd (1-0-0, 2.00).
2002-03 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 6; Maple Leafs, 3-2, OT. At Tampa, Fla., Renberg tied it at 2 in the third for Toronto before Nik Antropov won it for the Leafs when he scored off a rebound with 1:11 left in overtime.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Lightning - 5-5-2-0 on the road; Maple Leafs - 7-2-1-2 at home.