The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning are two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. It's hardly surprising that they played that way during the final few weeks of 2007.
Looking to get things turned around in 2008, they meet Tuesday night in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs have won the last five meetings.
Toronto (15-16-8) owns the third-worst record in the East, and has lost three straight and six of its last seven. The Maple Leafs surrendered five power-play goals in Saturday's 6-1 loss to the New York Rangers - the 10th time this season they've allowed at least five goals overall.
"We're a team and we're going to live and die by sticking together as a group here," said Darcy Tucker, who scored for the Maple Leafs.
The Lightning (15-21-3), meanwhile, own the East's worst record. They've lost four straight and are six games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2001-02 season.
"It's tough to tell you positives ... we lost again," Lightning center Brad Richards said after Saturday's 4-2 loss to Philadelphia, Tampa Bay's ninth defeat in 11 games. "The low point has been here for a week. We did things better than the other games. We had quality chances. That's the way it goes when you're in a funk."
Tampa Bay is a NHL-worst 3-13-1 away from home this season and opens a season-high four-game road trip with this matchup.
The Lightning lost at Toronto 6-1 on Dec. 10, and have been outscored 24-11 during its losing streak at the Air Canada Centre. The Leafs, who lost at Tampa Bay 2-1 on Dec. 20, have won 10 of their last 11 home games over the Lightning.
Toronto's Mats Sundin had a goal and assist against the Lightning on Dec. 10, and has four goals and five assists during the home winning streak over them. Sundin leads the Leafs with 17 goals and 26 assists this season, but has just one goal and two assists in his last seven games.
Starting goaltender Vesa Toskala has missed the last three games for Toronto due to tightness in his groin, and may not play in this game. Toskala has started both games against Tampa Bay this season.
Andrew Raycroft was pulled midway through the second period against the Rangers after giving up five goals on 28 shots. Raycroft is 0-4-2 with a 5.07 goals-against average since his last win on Nov. 9. Scott Clemmensen, who could start this game, faced five shots in his first action this season on Saturday, making four saves.
The Lightning's goalie situation hasn't been much better,
Rookie Karri Ramo stopped 18 shots against the Flyers, and has recorded a 3.04 GAA in losing his last three starts after earning his first NHL win by beating Toronto on Dec. 20.
Starter Johan Holmqvist has posted a 5.36 GAA in losing his last six starts since his last win on Dec. 6. In his only start against the Leafs this season on Dec. 10, Holmqvist stopped 18-of-22 shots before being pulled. He is 0-2-0 with a 5.80 GAA in two starts lifetime against Toronto.
Vincent Lecavalier scored his team-leading 26th goal and league-leading 56th point on Saturday, giving him seven goals and four assists in his last nine games.