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Maple Leafs-Lightning Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Maple Leafs-Lightning Preview
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, but can't find a way to move ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Lightning, winners of five straight games overall, look to avoid their fourth consecutive loss against the Maple Leafs when they meet Tuesday night at St. Pete Time Forum.

Tampa Bay (24-21-2) has dropped both meetings against Toronto (20-20-6) this season in regulation, and has lost three straight against the Maple Leafs since beating them 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 31.

With their longest winning streak of the season, though, the Lightning have a four-point lead over the Maple Leafs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Tampa Bay will now try to win six straight for the first time since Feb. 25-March 6, 2004, when it won eight in a row on its way to the first Stanley Cup title in franchise history.

The hot stretch has vaulted a Lightning team which dropped two or more consecutive games six different times before the New Year back into playoff position.

"We started feeling better about ourselves on our early January road trip," Lightning center Brad Richards said. "Everybody thought we'd lose all four games, and we won ... two. That got us on a bit of a roll. Right now, we're just barely back in the playoffs, and we have to continue to be better."

Vaclav Prospal had a goal and two assists to lead Tampa Bay to a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Monday. Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards each added a goal and an assist.

"As bad as we were in the first half, we were still around .500," St. Louis said. "Right now, we're on this streak because everybody's chipping in."

St. Louis scored his 29th goal of the season, tying him for the league lead. He also has six goals and 11 assists during an 11-game points streak.

St. Louis has a goal and two assists in the two games versus the Maple Leafs this season.

Toronto, missing eight players because of injuries, lost 6-1 to Vancouver on Saturday night.

Darcy Tucker (foot) has missed five straight games. Tucker, listed as day-to-day, leads the team with 19 goals.

Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft continues to struggle, with a 3.42 goals-against average in his last 10 games. Fans jeered Raycroft after he allowed Markus Naslund to score the sixth goal for the Canucks Saturday.

Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said he's not concerned about how Raycroft is being treated by the fans.

"I'm not worried about that because in Buffalo they would have given him a standing ovation," Maurice said of Toronto's 4-2 victory at Buffalo on Thursday night in which the goaltender stopped 22 of 24 shots. "All it takes is one game."

This contest opens a three-game road trip for the Leafs, who have won their last two road games while dropping their last three on home ice.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '07 TBL 2 at TOR 3
Jan 16 '07 TOR 4 at TBL 2
Dec 12 '06 TBL 4 at TOR 5
Nov 01 '06 TOR 4 at TBL 2
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